The family is paying $2,000 per month to dock the 136-foot long vessel, called the Yankee, which may host events for the Hoboken Historic Museum in the future.
After staying for 15 years at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park in Manhattan's Tribeca district, the owners were forced to find a new home due to construction at the old location.
The ship's residents, Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs, look forward to making Hoboken their new home. "You feel the history in Hoboken when you walk down the street," said Richard, who discovered Schnackenberg's Luncheonette on Washington Street during his first walk through the city. "Where else can you get a sandwich for two dollars and change?"
Better than Staten Island Originally, the MacKenzie-Childs family thought they'd have to settle for Staten Island. They had requested a slip along Hoboken's waterfront for months and not received a definitive answer. The ship, which is inoperable, was all ready to be tugged to Tottenville.
But within moments of phoning the Coast Guard, which has to approve all activity in the harbor, Richard received the go ahead from Scott Applegate, manager at the Shipyard Marina, to come to Hoboken.
The Marina happens to be located near the Hoboken historic Museum in the Shipyard housing development.
The history behind the Yankee Over its 100-year history, the vessel has served many purposes, beginning as a luxury steamboat off the coast of Maine where it was christened the Machigonne in 1907. "Machigonne" was the name first given to Portland, Maine by the American Indians who settled there.
In 1917, the mahogany staircases and brass fixtures were overshadowed by the machine guns and canons that were fastened to the boat's deck after the vessel was appropriated by the United States Army to patrol the Boston Harbor during World War I.
The vessel, which became known as the Hook Mountain, ended its tour of duty in 1919, after which it was used as a ferry between Provincetown and Boston.
Two years later the boat was brought down to New York City and used by Ellis Island to transport newly arrived immigrants to lower Manhattan.
The Yankee gave some of the poorest immigrants, who endured the squalid conditions below deck while crossing the Atlantic, an opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. The steamboat is the last surviving Ellis Island Ferry.
Tour of duty continued In 1929, the vessel began a new venture with the McAllister Navigation Company, where it was used as one of the first Statue of Liberty tour boats.
Thirteen years later, the boat was employed by the U.S. Navy to transport troops around Philadelphia and the Delaware River during World War II. Before being relieved of its military service, the boat was renamed the Yankee in 1947.
For the next 36 years, the Yankee operated as a ferry off Rhode Island, shuttling commuters between Block Island and Providence. In 1983, the Yankee, which had suffered from years of neglect and survived several mishaps, was sent to a New London, Conn. boatyard for scrap.
Seven years later, antique dealer Jimmy Gallagher rescued the Yankee from the maritime graveyard and had it towed to Tribeca's Pier 25.
Gallagher spent the next 13 years restoring the boat he called home. As a result of his efforts and its history, the boat has been entered into the National Historic Register. In 2003, Gallagher sold the boat for $365,000 to its current owners.
Future role in Hoboken Since purchasing the boat, the MacKenzie-Childs has rented it out occasionally to help pay for the exorbitant costs of restoring and maintaining a ship of its magnitude. Events on the boat have ranged from wedding parties to jazz concerts and included two separate Tribeca Film Festival parties.
The couple has also hosted several book club meetings, bird watching sessions, and a one-woman show on board the Yankee free of charge.
Richard has already expressed interest in working with the Hoboken Historical Museum to hold theatrical workshops on the boat for local children.
Museum Director Bob Foster is thrilled over the Yankee's arrival.
"It's the best thing to happen to the waterfront in a long time," said Foster, who is already considering ideas for future projects with the boat.
One such event might be a lecture on maritime history, while another could be a Sea Shanty concert that features folk songs used by sailors to ease the pain of heavy labor.
"It's the only historical vessel on this side of the Hudson," he said. "We're really looking forward to their presence and working with them in the future."
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com