How fitting it was that the sun burst through the clouds as the ceremony began for the announcement of the 2018 Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Experience Plan and a $3 million federal grant to the National Park Service in Boston.
For this project – which will redevelop the Hoosac Warehouse into a gateway center for the USS Constitution and the Navy Yard – is bright, bold, and exciting for not only Charlestown, but also the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come here to walk the Freedom Trail and view the historic ship known as “Old Ironsides.”
The large warehouse will serve as the gateway to the Charlestown Navy Yard and be the future home of the USS Constitution Museum Center.
At the ceremony held adjacent to the USS Constitution itself, United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the approval of the $3 million grant that will totally transform the Navy Yard and the waterfront space. Michael Creasey, general superintendent of the National Parks of Boston, delivered the welcoming remarks, telling the large assemblage, “It is really wonderful to stand with friends and supporters as we celebrate the completion of a very forward-looking Visitor Experience Plan. One of the exciting things about the plan is the strategies that came out of it, looking at a world-class berth for the ship behind us, the ship of state, the Constitution, and telling compelling American stories.”
Creasey thanked Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for their support of the project. “We thank you for your leadership and your vision as we launch the first phase of reimaging the Charlestown Navy Yard,” he said.
Chris Cook, commissioner of Boston parks and chief of environment, energy and open space for the city, said the Navy Yard will serve many purposes in its transformation.
“When you come to the Navy Yard, it’s a place where people are going to work, it’s a place where people are going to recreate, and it’s a place where the people are going to learn about their history,” said Cook. “We congratulate both Secretaries on this very significant accomplishment.
Addressing the Charlestown community on behalf of Mayor Martin Walsh, Cook added, “Visitors come from all over the globe to learn about the freedom and democracy principles that were created right here in the City of Boston, and you share your front doorstep with that community graciously every single day.”
Anne Grimes Rand, president of the USS Constitution Museum, said, “For more than 40 years, the USS Constitution Museum has served as the memory and educational voice for Old Ironsides. We are proud to be a partner to the United States Navy and the National Parks Service welcoming over 400,000 visitors each year.”
USS Constitution Commanding Officer Nathaniel Shick said he and his crew “are proud to be members of this vibrant partnership represented here today. Our mission is to protect, preserve and promote America’s ship of state in perpetuity.”
“Today we have a bright spot here , where we have coordination amongst government entities and private entities to produce an asset for you that is truly amazing” said Secretary Spencer. “Most importantly, I want to recognize and thank the active duty sailors who will continue the watch on the Navy’s oldest commissioned ship.”
Sec. Zinke, a former U.S Navy Seal and U.S. Congressman, concluded the ceremony with his remarks before signing the Memorandum of Understanding.
“This is a transformational moment in Charlestown,” said Zinke. “It’s working with our partners to build something greater for the future.”
The impressive ceremony also included an appearance by the USS Constitution Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem the Warren-Prescott School Chorus.