STONY BROOK, NY; October 24, 2022 – The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) announced the restoration of their beloved Hercules Figurehead in Stony Brook Village with former owners, admirers, its restorers and sponsors. In this rededication, the East, represented by the Canoe Place Inn (CPI) of Hampton Bays, and the West, represented by the WMHO of Stony Brook Village, meet to celebrate the completed renovations of CPI this year and the Hercules Figurehead beginning its restoration, generously sponsored by Olivia and Harlan Fischer.
The restoration of the 200 year-old figurehead was no small task. Danielle Parisi of ART of NYC & Long Island was retained to restore the Hercules Figurehead. The figurehead needed extensive attention and was cleaned, sanded, re-plastered, repaired and then painted and varnished.
“We are pleased that local residents Mr. and Mrs. Harlan Fischer stepped forward to help restore Hercules and the Pavilion for all to enjoy” said Gloria Rocchio, President of the WMHO. “He will protect the harbor for many years to come.”
History of the Hercules Figurehead and USS Ohio
Hercules was the original figurehead on the USS Ohio, the first ship to be launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1820. Its cost was $550,000 then, about 14 million today. The Hercules Figurehead alone cost $1,500 (today, $38,000.) In the Nile’s National Registry, an English Captain in the Royal Navy was quoted as having said that the USS Ohio, with its 74 guns, was “the perfection of a line-of-battle ship”. The USS Ohio voyaged to the Mediterranean in 1838, and Mexico towards the end of the Mexican-American War in 1847. It was stationed in Boston from 1847 to 1882, and used as a training post as it was a large vessel and could accommodate large numbers of Naval Officers at one time During the Civil War, the USS Ohio was fully armed and was utilized to bring Navy Officers to blockade fleets off the coast of Southern States. In 1875, the Hercules Figurehead and the USS Ohio were placed “in ordinary” and were considered of no further use to the government. Both were sold in 1882 to Mr. Israel Snow of Maine for $17,100, who sold both for $20,000 to a group of Long Islanders from Greenport and Riverhead. The USS Ohio was burned in an explosive funeral pyre in Greenport Harbor. The Hercules Figurehead was removed from the ship before its funeral and was sold to a family in Aquebogue for ten dollars. The family fixed Hercules with new paint and sold the figurehead to the proprietor of the Canoe Place Inn at the time, Miles Carpenter, for $15 or $25. The figurehead remained across the street from the Canoe Place Inn from the late 1800s until 1951, when Ward Melville purchased it and relocated it to the Hercules Pavilion in Stony Brook Village where it now guards Stony Brook Harbor.