Rally Aims to Save Historic Ship The Shawnee

There's a rally in front of the Ferris Wheel at the Balboa Fun Zone Saturday afternoon to save the Shawnee.

That's not Shawnee, as in American Indians, but The Shawnee, an old wooden ship that a fellow named Dennis Holland has been restoring for years in front of his Newport Beach home, something the city has asked him to stop doing.

To give this story its due, we have to back up, way up, to 1916, when the family that the city of Fontana was named after had the ship built in Boston. It later passed through the Panama Canal before settling in California, took third place in the first TransPac race to Tahiti in 1924, and was put into serving patrolling the Golden State's coastline during World War II.

Dennis Hollard gives a tour of The Shawnee restoration to the grandson of previous owner Allen Adler, Danny.
Dennis Hollard gives a tour of The Shawnee restoration to the grandson of previous owner Allen Adler, Danny.
Photo by Jamaica Rose/SaveShawnee.com

Over that time, The Shawnee passed owners, and it had fallen into disrepair by the time the man who owned it since 1954, Allen Adler, died 10 years ago. Half sunk in her mooring already, maritime officials discussed finishing the job for her.

Enter Holland, who had built The Pilgrim of Newport in his backyard. That ship, which is docked by the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, now goes by The Spirit of Dana Point. With the City of Newport Beach's blessing, Holland years ago moved The Shawnee to his home to begin restoration. Unable to afford workmen, he's been doing the massive job mostly himself.

Fast forward to the present day, and neighborhood complaints have mounted about The Shawnee being an eyesore and reducing property values. The City Council recently informed Holland he has until April 30 to move the project, or he'll face fines that can reach $1,000 a day and possibly jail time. You don't even want to know what they do to boat restorers behind bars in Newps.

And so, we come to Saturday's 3 p.m. rally aimed at building support to let Holland finish re-building The Shawnee. Next up after that is a planned appearance at Tuesday's 7 p.m. City Council meeting.

Here's the Save The Shawnee Facebook page. For more on the conflict, check out this ripping Newport Beach Independent overview. Also take a look at YouTube videos here and here.

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