A New Beginning

OLYMPIA port view

Welcome to the new Flagship Olympia Foundation website. We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress we are making with the ship and campaign.

We have just completed several projects funded by the National Maritime Heritage program of the U.S. Park Service and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Our philosophy with OLYMPIA is to balance essential preservation work with program related projects that will enhance the public experience of the ship. On the preservation side, the work we are doing to stabilize the wind and waterline area of the ship is the most important. Because the oxygen content of surface water is higher due to wave action the waterline and three feet down tends to deteriorate faster than the rest of the ship. To address this we have built a cofferdam that allows us to reach four feet below the waterline for a length of eight feet. Beginning with the most deteriorated areas, we are blasting the metal clean and coating it with a thick layer of ceramic epoxy, then paint. We expect this work to be ongoing until we get the ship to a dry dock. It is intended to stabilize OLYMPIA where she sits as well as ensuring that she can make the trip to a dry dock safely.

Another much more visible preservation project has been the restoration of the skylights, providing light and ventilation to the galley, officers’ wardroom, and flag officers’ cabins where we also restored the windows around the 5” guns. This is a project that helps with both preservation and programming; preservation by keeping the weather out, programming by making these spaces more usable and showing them in their best light. Projects that were all about programming have been the boarding ladder allowing us to come aboard by boat, the mess tables, benches, and sea chests that allow us to pursue all manner of activities from hosting dinners to providing a place to do student projects.

We are working hard to make OLYMPIA an active ship both in terms of operable machinery and in terms of the events, lessons, and programs that truly engage our visitors. Our goal is for the ship to be a live experience transporting our visitors to the Gilded Age.

Captain's cabin skylight restored, exterior view
Captain's cabin skylight restored, exterior view
Starboard side casemate windows restored
Starboard side casemate windows restored
Cofferdam work in progress
Cofferdam work in progress