The 104-foot motor cruising yacht, once used by presidents ranging from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, landed after a five day journey from Belfast, Maine, where it has been stored on blocks for the past four years.
Workers spent much of the day hauling out the 93-year-old vessel and cradling it on a new bed of beams and blocks on the Richardson site on Cambridge Creek, where it is slated for renovations and display.
Although the detailed plans for the wooden hull ship are still being finalized, Richardson officials expressed delight at the opportunity to participate in the revitalization of this historic ship.
“We see this as a huge benefit to Richardson’s mission, and a kick start to the maritime trades in the area,” said Martin Hardy, Board Chairman of the Richardson Maritime Center at 103 Hayward St. in Cambridge.
Sequoia’s first visit to Cambridge came in 1935 when U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled aboard her to dedicate the original Choptank River Bridge, funded by the New Deal.
Sequoia was last seen in Cambridge in 2019 while in transit from Washington, D.C., to Maine, where renovation work was originally planned to take place. Space constraints and the Covid- 19 pandemic hampered those efforts, and owner Michael Cantor decided to bring the ship to the Richardson’s site on the Cambridge waterfront.
The Richardson site, adjacent to the Yacht Maintenance facility, is also home to the Ruark boat works living history museum. Hardy said the museum has long been planning a new building on the site to house its exhibits. A building to house the restoration on Sequoia is now being considered as part of those plans.
It is anticipated that the full renovation will take up $15M over five years and require the skills of up to 20 shipwrights.
Cantor said he hopes to restore the historic yacht to use for cruises and charters, as well as for exhibit. He sees Cambridge, two-hours from his home in Washington, as a possible base of operation for ongoing inspections and maintenance work.
“Its permanent home will be on the water,” Cantor said, “but Cambridge could be its home for repairs and refitting.”
Sequoia, launched in 1925, spent much of its life hosting presidents and tourists in D.C. It was known as the “Floating White House” before the federal government sold it at auction in 1977.
Richardson officials believe that the Sequoia’s stay in Cambridge will give a boost to the ongoing redevelopment of the city’s waterfront – the Cambridge Harbor project – led by Cambridge Waterfront Development, Inc. (CWDI.Richardson
CWDI Executive Director, Matt Leonard, agrees. “CWDI formed its partnership with Richardson because their mission to promote local maritime heritage aligns with our mission. We are proud to be working with them on initiatives like the Sequoia project.”