July 6, 2022

Connecticut River Museum Starts Fire Damage Cleanup, Establishes Donation Fund, Plans Reopening

A fire that began on the steamboat dock damaged the Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT — After a fire broke out late Wednesday evening and caused severe damage to the Connecticut River Museum’s historic 1878 Steamboat Warehouse building and dock, museum officials have begun cleanup efforts and established a fund for financial donations for repair and restoration expenses.

While the prompt response and preparedness of volunteer fire crews from Essex and surrounding towns saved the building and all of the invaluable artifacts and treasures inside, heavy smoke and water damage did occur. The Connecticut River Museum Fire Fund has been established to help rebuild, restore and return the museum and dock to full operation. Donations may be mailed to: Connecticut River Museum Fire Fund, 67 Main Street, Essex, CT, 06426 or made online by going to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

River cruises aboard the Schooner Mary E have been operating on a regular schedule without interruption and will continue through the Fall foliage season with daily sails at 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 6:00 pm.

The exhibit galleries, now temporarily closed, will open over a staggered timeline. The Museum gift shop and the main floor gallery exhibit On the Great River, which showcases the Turtle submarine and the 1814 British Raid on Essex, should be open to the public within a week.

The Boathouse Gallery and Education Center is scheduled to reopen by mid-September while the second floor gallery boasting a brand new exhibit opening is planned for sometime in October. The third floor exhibit space, which experienced the most damage, will be the last to open with the 17th Annual Holiday Train Show on November 19.

The Museum’s annual Family Maritime Festival has been postponed to Saturday, August 21 and will now include a special tribute to all of the firefighters who battled the blaze and minimized the damage. The public is invited to an afternoon of free maritime games, sea chanteys, schooner deck tours, rope making and more on the Museum’s lawn from 1:00 pm- 4:30 pm. At 5 pm, a free concert featuring sea chanteys by Freemen of the Sea and folk rock by Amalgamated Muck will take place and include a special presentation to honor members of area fire departments.

For more information or to reserve a schooner cruise ticket, call (860)767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum, located at 67 Main Street on the historic Essex waterfront, is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the natural beauty and cultural heritage of New England’s Great River.