Burning The Schooner ENTERPRISE, October 1957

Carroll Thayer Berry Collection

In the depths of the 1930’s depression, Frank Swift, sailor and silversmith, had a dream. He’d buy up old working schooners, fix them up some, and provide inexpensive vacations for working people. There were plenty of ships: his business model stipulated that when the repair cost was more than the purchase cost, it was time to retire the ship. By 1944, when Swift bought ENTERPRISE, he had proven the business, and the Maine Windjammer Cruises fleet, based in Camden, had grown to ten.

By 1957, ENTERPRISE, built in 1909, was worn out. After being stripped of gear, she was towed and burned, something traditionally done with old wooden vessels. His fleet was down to two—the GRACE BAILEY and the MERCANTILE. Both are still in service today [2015]. By the time this photo was taken, burning was unusual and Carroll Thayer Berry, a fan and photographer of the Windjammers, documented it.

Carefully composed, Berry’s photograph captured a critical moment in the life of ENTERPRISE: flames have begun to lick out of her hull, but she is still intact at this moment. A low tide allowed Berry to shoot looking slightly up at the ship, which heightens the drama.

Carroll Thayer Berry, Artist and Photographer
Born in 1886, Berry had been a marine engineer, muralist, free-lance illustrator, oil painter, soldier, architect, and draftsman before he began creating wood engravings and woodcuts. His woodcut work led to photography; his photos served as studies for his woodcuts. He moved to Rockport after World War II and created a printmaking studio and darkroom. By 1952, he had become a central figure in the Knox County Camera Club and one of the founders of what is now the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of Berry’s photographs, numbering over 6,500, represents the artist’s work between the late 1940s and the early 1970s. They show Maine’s in-shore fisheries, including lobstering and the herring weir fishery, and other activities along the shores of mid-coast Maine.  Berry was probably the first photographer of note to record Maine’s growing windjammer trade, including its schooners, its captains, and its many happy guests.

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