June 21, 2019 ~ It's Almost Time!
She won’t have the familiar look she’s had for the last several decades. There will be no steel outriggers, railings or anchor, no pilothouse or helm that guided her way through southern waters for 75 years. Her mantle is chipped and worn and rust stains stream down her hull. But her unmistakable lines will make her recognizable to those who know her. And in honor of her 80th birthday, the historic vessel Kit Jones is finally coming home.
Intensive preparations have been made over the past several months to get her ready for the 544-mile overland trip home. Through coordinated efforts on two different coasts, June 27th-28th, she will return to McIntosh.
Kit Jones Steering Committee member, Maxine Woolsey, has been overseeing the details of the Kit’s de-construction in Biloxi, MS in order to be ready for the trip. Maxine’s late husband (and former Captain of the Kit), Bob Woolsey, was the last person to pilot her fromGeorgia to Biloxi, Mississippi. As fate would have it, Maxine will be escorting Kit backhome to Georgia.
Paul Bodin of Bay Marine in Biloxi has tended the maintenance of the Kit Jones for the past several decades and was also hired to manage her disassembly and prep work. The pilothouse and handrails had to be carefully removed to meet the height requirements for transportation; also taking into consideration the attachment of a new cabin and pilothouse in the future. Keeping the integrity of the hull and stabilizing it were of the upmost importance. Prior to removing the pilothouse, Bodin and his crew removed the interior panel lights, electrical boxes and electronics. Ms. Woolsey packed these in watertight boxes for transport. Winches and hydraulic cylinders were removed from the aft deck.
Once the pilothouse was lifted, the engine and generators were removed; which, due to their decrepit condition, can only be scrapped. All of the carefully detailed work is focused on the goal of safely transporting the vessel intact. She will be moved by a travel lift with four straps and placed on a marine transport trailer.
“It requires major coordination to lift all straps and both ends of the boat at the same time to prevent splitting the hull”, said Ms. Woolsey. Mr. Bodin will mark the hull exterior so that all lifting straps are placed on the ‘ribs’ of the hull - which are the strongest supporting points.
Two escorted tractor-trailers will be used to bring the Kit, her pilothouse, and additional parts back to Darien. Her cross-country trek will temporarily end in the Tidewaters Industrial Park off Commissioners Way. A site has been prepared to accommodate the 60-foot long vessel, the tractor-trailers bringing her, and the crane that will unload her. Once there, she will be placed on keel boards and supported by stands for restoration work.
Following a ‘face-lift’ and transformation back to her original design, the Kit will be relocated to the grounds beside the Old Jail Art Center at 404 North Way in historic Darien. She will be displayed as a landmark attraction to highlight the working waterfront of McIntosh County.
The Kit Jones is a 2018 Georgia Historic Trust ‘Places In Peril’designee, but is no longer in danger of a tragic demise.
April 2nd, 2019 ~ BIG UPDATE!
We FINALLY have news to convey! As so often happens with historic preservation of this magnitude, progress has been a bit slow, and it has only been in the last few months that we’ve had anything solid to report. In February 2018, on behalf of McIntosh County, we applied for a GA Department of Natural Resources Coastal Incentive Grant. The Kit Jones Project won this $80K grant in October, and it has now been funded, enabling us to move forward with plans to bring the Kit back home in coming months.
We are currently making arrangements for the vessel’s overland return to McIntosh County from her present location in Biloxi, Mississippi. Further exciting news is that the final destination of the Kit Jones will be in a highly visible location right in the heart of downtown Darien, at the intersection of U.S. 17 and Highway 99. In the meantime, she will reside in a temporary location on Highway 251 near the Sheriff’s Department while restoration takes place. Once the restoration phase is complete, we will have a big celebration for her final move to downtown Darien.
We are so proud that this grassroots effort is just about to pay off, and by working together we are able to return home this one-of-a-kind wood-hull vessel with such rich history and endless possibilities for our community. After 80 years of service, the Kit Jones is going to be one of those stories of “WE DID IT!” thanks to your continued encouragement and support.
If you are receiving this email, it is because you showed interest in the Kit or provided funding to aid her return home. If you do not wish to continue to receive these emails, please let us know and you will be unsubscribed. We plan to keep you updated as the next stages of restoration and education develop. We will keep you apprised of any new developments for her move too!
We look forward to seeing many of you at the Blessing of the Fleet 2019 in Darien, and invite you to stop by the Friends of the Kit Jones booth!
Thank you again, please keep in touch.
Friends of the Kit Jones
ATLANTA, Nov. 15, 2017— The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released today its 2018 list of ten Places in Peril in the state.
Sites on the list include: A.J. Gillen Department Store in Maxeys (Oglethorpe County); Bibb City Elementary School in Columbus (Muscogee County); Cuthbert Water Tower in Cuthbert (Randolph County); Fire Station No. 2 in Rome (Floyd County); Fort Valley Freight Depot in Fort Valley (Peach County); Foster-Thomason-Miller House in Madison (Morgan County); Kit Jones Vessel constructed on Sapelo Island (McIntosh County); National Library Bindery Company in Atlanta (Fulton County); Olmsted Linear Park Properties in Atlanta (DeKalb County); and Underground Savannah (Chatham County).
"This is the Trust's thirteenth annual Places in Peril list," said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. "We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia's imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites."
The Friends of the Kit Jones Steering Committee, including author & historian, Buddy Sullivan, attended the Georgia Historic Trust Places In Peril Unveiling Reception on November 15th at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta and were honored to receive the designation for the historic vessel Kit Jones as a “2018 Place In Peril”.
Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia's significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.
Through Places in Peril, the Trust encourages owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.
The Unveiling Reception was preceded by an informational session for the ten “Class of '18“ Places In Peril designees. The session was the first of its kind as the Georgia Trust hopes to become more engaged in assisting the nominees with their projects. “This year is a year when we are going to work even more intensively with people to preserve these places,” said Mark McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust. “We are signing a memo of understanding with each group outlining our shared expectations and understandings.”
Neale Nickels presided over the gathering and presented a slideshow highlighting each site. Representatives of each location were invited to speak about their particular projects. A ‘point person’ was assigned to each project, and in the near future, the Georgia Trust will meet with each group, develop a work plan and schedule on-site meetings.
September 2017 ~ Historic Vessel Kit Jones Receives State Grant for Restoration Project
The effort to bring the Kit Jones from Biloxi, MS back home to McIntosh County for restoration and final placement just got one step closer.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Tourism division announced September 21st that it awarded more than $111,624 in product development resource team grants to 14 new and expanding tourism projects across the state. $10,000 of that funding will be applied towards transporting Kit Jones back to GA so that repairs and restoration may begin.
“One of our main obstacles in spurring new tourism product is funding in the communities that receive a Tourism Product Development Resource Team,” said Cindy Eidson, Director of Tourism Product Development for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “By providing grants for projects that we recommend, we help to jump-start tourism development, not only expanding Georgia’s tourism offerings, but also creating jobs and sustainable economic development in these communities.”
The excitement is growing now that we’re gaining traction; but our biggest hurdle is getting help for the over-the-road hauling of this 70 foot vessel. All options have been considered; even water transport via tow or barge, but the integrity of The Kit’s hull will simply not warrant that method.
Being awarded the maximum we could get from this grant is a fantastic start! $10,000 will certainly help as we get the Kit stabilized for transport, but we have a long way to go. Any one wishing to help with this project please contact us!
Ongoing ~ Phase 1 ~ Bringing the Kit back home
Together with the McIntosh Rod & Gun Club and private contributions, we have successfully acquired title to the Kit Jones, paid current her rent in a secured Biloxi boat yard, and begun preparations to bring her back to GA.
Her steel rigging and platform have been removed; thankfully prior to Hurricane Nate, which struck Biloxi directly. She weathered this storm well, as she has many others.
Copies of the original plans have been purchased from the Kit's designer, Sparkman & Stephens of New York to start the planning phase of restoration.
We are currently trying to raise funds for the remaining preparations needed for her to sustain the long road home, as well as the subsequent transportation costs to bring her the 543 miles back to GA.
Once she is back in Darien, we begin Phase 2 ~ Restoration