Mary E was built in Bath in 1906, by Thomas E. Hagan,
shipbuilder. He was the son of a Georgetown farmer who came to Bath and
became a joiner and shipwright. By 1906 he seems to have been slowing
down and was just completing one small vessel every few years. Mary E was Hagan’s last vessel; in the 1910 census he is listed as a machinist. He died in 1912. Mary E was built on property where Bath Iron Works now stands.
Hagan sold Mary E on December 7, 1906 to four men from New
Shoreham, RI – Block Island. She was listed in Bath as a schooner, and
she originally carried two masts, and a billethead. By the time she was
licensed at Block Island on March 28, 1907, however, she also had a
gasoline engine. Her original four owners were William A. Dunn, Dwight
A. Dunn, Curtis S. Dunn and Jesse Lewis, all of Block Island. For 38
years, these four men operated the vessel, mostly in the fisheries, but
some years licensed for the coastal trade as well. The List of Merchant
Vessels of the United States for all those years listed her with a crew
of five. Later owners told stories of her being used to carry mail and
passengers, and as a rum-runner, and we look forward to being able to
document some of those stories.
In 1944 the Block Islanders sold Mary E to Edward P. Gleason
of Gloucester, who put a larger engine in and used her as a dragger. He
fished her out of Gloucester before selling her to Clarence W. Leveille
in 1950. Leveille continued fishing her out of Gloucester, increasing
her crew to six, and later converting to diesel power. He abandoned the
vessel in 1960, and she sank at the dock in a Thanksgiving Day hurricane in 1963 in
Lynn Harbor, Mass.
Two years later, William R. Donnell II of Bath, great grandson of
shipbuilder William T. Donnell, saw an ad for Mary E in National Fisherman.
Knowing his great-grandfather had been an associate of Thomas Hagan,
Donnell could not resist purchasing the vessel and raising it. At that
time she had only a single mast, and a gallows frame for net fishing. He
brought it to Bath and began a two-year renovation on the grounds of
what is now the Maine Maritime Museum campus.
Captain Donnell sailed her out of Rockland around Penobscot Bay as a
passenger vessel, after restoring her to a schooner rig. It is believed that the Mary E
was the first historic schooner to be certified as a USGC passenger
vessel and paved the way for the entire Maine Windjammer Fleet.
In 1971, the vessel was sold to Robert Morse of Morse Marine in
Boothbay Harbor. Later she was sold to influential jazz musician Teddy
Charles who sailed her to New York where she was one of the first
schooners sailing out of South Street Seaport. In 1990, Captain Charles
moved her to Greenport, NY where she sailed as a passenger vessel and
traveled to Key West, Florida in the winters.
In 2006, Matt Culen purchased her and began a major restoration
effort with Captain Eric Van Dormolen in collaboration with the Long
Island Maritime Museum (a small operation in Greenport). He later moved
her to the Connecticut River Maritime Museum docks and had been running
river tours there every summer.
In December 2016, the board of Maine Maritime Museum approved the acquisition of Mary E.
In spring of 2017 she will be brought to the museum's campus where her
restoration will be completed over the summer. In 2018 she will be
officially launched at the museum.