Restoration efforts underway for local historic landmark Governor Stone

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A piece of local history is getting a new lease on life...

The Governor Stone - a nearly 150-year-old schooner - was an iconic sight in the St. Andrews Marina for years. That was until 2018 when the vessel fell victim to Hurricane Michael’s devastating winds. Sunk three times before, the boat has a story filled with resilience and perseverance. But the damage from the storm may be the vessel’s greatest hardship yet. The friends of the Governor Stone are now working to bring it back to life for the fourth time.

“This boat is a symbol of the community,” Christopher Volpi, the Vice President of The Stone Loft Boat Shop said. “It was here when I first moved here back in 2015 out in St. Andrews Bay over there. And it’s just one piece of the Hurricane that needs to be put back.”

A group led by project manager Capt. Anderson Barnes is currently working to restore the boat.

“We’re really about a quarter of the way done with the removal side of everything. It’s sort of a controlled disassembly of the boat to remove the pieces to get down to the keel so that we can remove the keel and then build everything up around the new keel,” Capt. Anderson Barnes, project manager of the Governor Stone restoration said.

The team is carefully documenting and removing each piece so that they can be accurately re-created.

“We’d like to use locally sourced lumber if we could, you know it was built with old heart pine for the keel and locally sourced cypress and juniper for the decking,” said Barnes.

Funding is one of many challenges these projects face.

“Funding is definitely a challenge, I think it’s a challenge for any type of nonprofit and to try to drive funds…For this project? It’s a mammoth it’s a large project,” said Volpi.

Labor is another challenge.

“Probably the biggest burden would be labor because you need skilled labor to make the cuts and record the right dimensions there’s a little bit of skill in the way you do this stuff it’s boat building it’s a little bit more than house construction,” Barnes said.

The team is currently welcoming everyone to lend a hand.

“We’re training local volunteers and we’re having a lot of people come by literally out of the woodwork to come help us,” said Barnes.

With the community’s support, the team is optimistic the vessel will be back in its home sooner rather than later. The next chance to support the project will be the Schooner Sundays event at The Salty Hobo this Sunday. The fundraiser features boat rides, live music, and more. You can find more information on the Governor Stone’s website or Facebook page.

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