Kennebunk Savings Bank recently awarded the Eliot Historical Society a Community Promise Grant. The monies will be used to mount a 12-foot canvas mural of the clipper ship Nightingale that, at one time, graced the wall of the home of Eliot school teacher Esther Morrow, who commissioned the painting from local artist Gordon Carlisle. The Nightingale was built by Samuel Hanscom, Jr. at the Hanscom Shipyard (now Green Acre) in Eliot, was adorned with a nearly full sized, carved figurehead of “the Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind, outfitted in Portsmouth and launched on June 16, 1851. The ship had a varied career, beginning as a renowned record-setting clipper, carrying cargo from England to ports in China, Indonesia and Australia; as an infamous slave ship in the 1850s, and later used by the Western Union Telegraph Co. to research sites to lay cables in the Bering Strait. Her final incarnation was as a freighter for a Norwegian sea captain. The Nightingale was, in the end, abandoned in a North Atlantic storm in 1893. The ship’s figurehead was found and rescued, in 1994, from inside a barn on a Swedish farm, by antiques dealer, Karl-Eric Svardskog where it had been used as a scarecrow.
The Nightingale mural will be placed in the Eliot Elementary School where Esther taught for over 25 years and where the second grade Eliot History Studies Program, that she created, continues to bring alive the history of the town to its children.
Sundance Sign Company of Dover, NH is handling the mounting and installation of the mural and will be unveiled during a special program at the Eliot Elementary School on March 16th in celebration of Maine’s Bicentennial.