CANDLE HOUSE & THE CHARLES W. MORGAN
A model of the bow of an iconic whaling ship is mounted high up on the facade of a large granite building on Water Street. Here is a bit of the history of the model of the Charles W. Morgan on MBL's Candle House.
The Charles W. Morgan was built in New Bedford in 1841 and is the only surviving 19th century wooden whaling ship in the world. In her over 80 years of service, she sailed the South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and brought home a total of 54,483 barrels of sperm whale and other whale oil and 152,934 pounds of whalebone.

In 1924, Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green, a descendent of one of the original owners, brought the Morgan to his South Dartmouth estate at Round Hill where a wharf, breakwater and cofferdam were built to preserve the ship. The Morgan was opened to the public in 1925 and was toured by over a million visitors.

´╗┐After Colonel Green's death in 1935 and the hurricane of 1938, she was saved by the Mystic Historical Association (later Mystic Seaport) in Connecticut where she was eventually restored and is now open to the public as a museum ship. The Morgan recently did sailing tours of many New England ports.
The Charles W. Morgan at dock at Mystic Seaport
The Candle House was built in 1836 to store whale oil used in the manufacture of spermaceti candles. In 1903, the Marine Biological Laboratory purchased the building and it was used by the Supply Department, which collected and supplied marine specimens to scientific research labs.
Looking west on lower Water Street with the Candle House on the right
and the U.S. Fisheries Commission residence on the left, 1915.
In the 1960s, MBL General Manager, Homer Smith, (who married Sam Cahoon's daughter, Cynthia) thought that a model of a famous whaling ship would be appropriate to mount on the street-facing side of the building. Robert Hampton, head of the MBL boat shop, took on the project and traveled to Mystic with his wife, Carol, to visit the Charles W. Morgan. The curator there supplied a set of the ship's plans, which were scaled down one inch to the foot. Hampton worked on the model over the winter. The original Morgan's hull is covered in copper sheathing, which is replicated on the model using 1/8" aircraft plywood and copper bottom paint. MBL machinist Frank Sylvia made the anchors and brass deadeye. (photos below, courtesy of Robert Hampton)
Details of the model
The model was completed in a few months and a crew mounted it to the front of the Candle House in February, 1965.
Robert Hampton and David Graham
Paul Shave, on scaffold, awaits the model, which was hoisted up by a forklift run by Robert Hampton
Paul Shave and Al Lunn
Many decades in the Woods Hole weather had taken a toll on the wooden model necessitating repair and repainting. In 2018, the model was taken down and given to Myron Hartford, a semi-retired architect and volunteer in the Boat Shop, for repairs.
Myron Hartford with the restored model (photo credit: Megan Costello)
Bill Brosseau, assistant director of facilities at MBL, Myron Hartford, Debbie Scanlon and Jim Baker, another Boat Shop volunteer prior to the rehanging of the model. (photo credit: Megan Costello)
Many thanks to Robert Hampton and his niece, Valerie Hampton Harding, for providing the history of this magnificent model.
Plaque on the front of Candle House, which reads:
Candle house 1836.
This building was used for the manufacture of spermaceti candles and as a store and supply house for the outfitting of whaling vessels. The following vessels were built on Bar Neck wharf.
Ship Uncas 1828
Ship Bartholomew Gosnold 1832
Ship Commodore Morris 1841
Bark Elijah Swift
This tablet was placed here by the Town of Falmouth 1930
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Woods Hole Historical Museum
579 Woods Hole Road (P.O. Box 185)
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Phone: 508-548-7270