St. Michaels in Talbot County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Where did such a big figurehead come from? A big ship? In this case, it was made for a relatively small vessel -- the 88-foot schooner yacht Freedom. But yacht designer John G. Alden never intended Freedom to have a figurehead when she was built in 1931.
Just before World War II, the schooner was given to the U.S. Naval Academy to train midshipmen in sailing. One of Freedom's captains requested a figurehead, and the Academy's patternmaker, John M. Cook, made a big one. After a few years, it was removed to the Naval Academy Museum as it added 450 pounds to the bow and was vulnerable to damage.
"[M]idshipmen entered the Museum where the Freedom figurehead was and rubbed their hands on the large bosoms for luck. One Midshipman wrote his mother and told her what he did and the luck he had. Apparently his mother didn't agree. She wrote the Admiral a letter and the Admiral's orders were, 'Move it.'"
From a 1984 letter by carver John M. Cook, describing Freedom's loan to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
[caption] Made c. 1950 by by John M. Cook
[caption] Schooner Freedom with the figurehead in place.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels.
Location. Marker has been reported permanently removed. It was located near 38° 47.234′ N, 76° 13.249′ W. Marker was in St. Michaels, Maryland, in Talbot County. Marker could be reached from Cherry Street. Along the waterfront in front of Dodson House at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Saint Michaels MD 21663, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Navy Point Historic Houses (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Freedom's Figurehead (a few steps from this marker); What's under your feet? (a few steps from this marker); Oystering on the Chesapeake (a few steps from this marker); Deflecting the Enemy (a few steps from this marker); War in the Chesapeake (a few steps from this marker); Shallop (within shouting distance of this marker); Lost Overboard (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Michaels.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has been replaced by the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 24, 2012, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 413 times since then. Last updated on October 24, 2020, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 24, 2012, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.