May 22, 2018  
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Maine’s Mast Trade, Mar 8
Maine’s Mast Trade, Mar 8
Harper Batsford is Museum Assistant at the Tate House in Portland (, home of Senior Mast Agent for the Royal Navy in the 1700’s.

Her presentation will largely echo that of Sam Manning, author of The King’s Broad Arrow who brought to life a period in history which makes this book valuable, but not simply because you will understand how the shipbuilding industry worked from the 1600s – 1800s. Manning shows what governments were doing, why, and how it directly parallels the twentieth- and twenty-first century policies of nations spending blood and treasure to ensure they can control the supply of natural resources for their national security.

With 1600s Europe unable to supply the big tall masts needed for their navies, Great Britain established a policy of marking trees in New England which were specifically the Crown’s, to be cut, processed, and shipped back to England. Without proper masts, the navy could not carry sails to propel their ships–much like the need for oil today.

The Tate House was constructed for Captain George Tate (1700-1794) and his family who had arrived in the Colonies around 1750. Tate served as the Senior Mast Agent for the British Royal Navy, overseeing the cutting and shipping of white pines from Maine to England. This position assured Tate's success, and his status in the community is reflected by the style of architecture he selected for his home.

With its clapboards still unpainted, Tate House is one of two residences in Maine with an unusual subsumed dormer in the gambrel roof. As the only pre-Revolutionary home in Greater Portland that is open to the public, the impressive period furnishings, beautiful grounds and herb gardens, and unique architecture of Tate House offer an insightful glimpse at the 18th century and life in Colonial Maine.

Posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 (Archive on Friday, March 31, 2017)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre

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