Governor Stone Restoration Almost Finished

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PANAMA CITY - A historic landmark sailing vessel's renovations are nearly complete after six months of work. The Governor Stone is more than 100 years old.

Thousands of hours of volunteer work, tens of thousands of dollars, and good spirits from the Friends Of The Governor Stone are bringing the historic vessel back to life.

Built in 1877, the Governor Stone was used as a cargo ship in Mississippi. It made its way over to Panama City in 2007 and Friends Of The Governor Stone found it in a less than preserved state.

"Like any renovation or restoration project, you find stuff you didn't know was there when you started," said Kay Cherry with the Friends Of The Governor Stone.

Cherry says the non-profit group received a $50,000 grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources two years ago, but the restoration is forcing them to dig into their own pockets to fix costly items like the vessel's engine.

"So the things we have done with this restoration are to make her look like the working vessel she was when she was built," said Cherry.

Hours of research continue to restore what's considered the last remaining Bay Schooner of its type. The keel, center boards, cabins, and cargo hatches are among several parts of the vessel that are rebuilt or replaced.

"We had some idea of what the boat was going to look like when we got it done. We think it's going to be a dramatically different boat when it returns to its home port in St. Andrews," said Bill Hamilton, Restoration Project Manager.

Friends Of The Governor Stone organizers expect the historic vessel to be sailing by the end of March.