As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine, is showcasing 150 of the most iconic, historic and beautiful objects in its extensive collection of maritime artifacts.

The exhibit, Full Ahead at 50, will be on view through May 26, 2013. An exhibit catalog titled Maine & the Sea shows and tells the story behind each of the objects. Additional information about the exhibit is available by CLICKING HERE.

Background: The brig Clarissa Ann was built in Bath by shipbuilder Levi Houghton in 1824. The vessel was named for his daughter Clarissa Ann. Levi commissioned a figurehead of Clarissa Ann be carved for the vessel, although most vessels of the era had only a scroll-like billet head under the base of the bowsprit. Although Clarissa Ann Houghton was only 5 years old when the ship was built, the figurehead is that of a young woman. It is not known who modeled for the carving. Nathaniel Winsor was the only known ship carver in the Bath area in 1824 and it is assumed that he carved the figurehead; although Levi Houghton certainly had the means to have had the figurehead done by a carver elsewhere.

The brig Clarissa Ann was used for transatlantic trade for most of her working years, although she returned to Bath on occasion for repairs or to deliver cargo. When the brig arrived in Havana, Cuba, in January 1840 with extensive damage, she was condemned. The figurehead was apparently removed and returned to the Houghton family in Bath for it was mentioned in the Bath weekly newspaper, The Independent Junior, on June 27, 1885, in an article about renovations to The Cedars, the former home of Levi Houghton. When The Cedars was sold to the Hyde Windlass Company in 1942, the home’s contents were given to two heirs of Levi Houghton. The Clarissa Ann figurehead then remained in the possession of Elizabeth Houghton Trott of Providence, Rhode Island, until she donated it to Maine Maritime Museum along with several paintings and other artifacts in 1984.

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