On Tuesday evening, July 6, the Cow Neck Peninsular Historical Society hosted a slide presentation/lecture entitled "When Port Washington Was a Boat-Building Beehive." The event was held at the Sands-Willets House, headquarters of the society, and was hosted by Ginger Martus and Alan Dinn.
Ms. Ginger Marshall Martus opened the presentation and described her father's family-owned business called the A & R Marshall Yard on Manhasset Bay. Martus grew up on Manhasset Bay and proudly says "her heart is still on the bay." The slide presentation had some minor technical difficulties with the projector but still showed some memorable photos of the early boat building days of Port. Martus sponsors a newsletter called Bone Yard Boats, which finds interested parties to renovate older and often abandoned vessels in order to preserve them as examples of our boating heritage. The boats presented for renovation are limited to those valued at under $10,000.
The second portion of the presentation was given by Mr. Alan Dinn, grandson of founder Ned Purdy and author of Boats by Purdy. Dinn described Port Washington as a thriving boat-building center starting in the 1920s when Carl Fisher, famous developer of Miami and Montauk, who was then promoting the waterfront community now known as Bayview Colony, brought the Purdy Boat Co., builder of world-class yachts, to Port. The Purdys built Gold Cup championship racing power-boats, hydroplane cruisers, meteors and the most famous Purdy yacht, Jock Whitney's 74 foot Aphrodite. Dinn described an era early in the past century when speed was a prominent aspect of so many technological advances. Americans wanted faster planes, cars and boats. The Purdy Boat Co., which was in operation from 1925 through 1954, helped answer the call for speedier boats. During the 1920s, Purdy's boat won the America's Gold Cup.
The Cow Neck Peninsular Historical Society is a non-profit, voluntary educational institution concerned with the cultural, social and political history of Long Island. It offers classes for children and adults, exhibits, tours and special events that make history come alive. In addition to the Sands-Willets House which is open to the public every Sunday from 2-4 p.m. it operates a living museum in Port Washington's oldest house, the Thomas Dodge House (ca. 1721). The society encourages membership; the only requirements are an interest in local history and the ability to pay a modest membership fee. This presentation was the first in a series sponsored by the society entitled "This Nautical Peninsular."