Ship shape: the Frying Pan provides a storied setting for our November issue’s interiors shoot
The eclectic backdrop to our November issue interiors story, produced by our US editor Michael Reynolds, is the crumbling hull of a historic decommissioned US lightship, the Frying Pan. Docked at Pier 66 Maritime along the Hudson River Park, the boat is a revered fixture of New York’s west side skyline and a beacon of maritime history.
Built in 1929, Frying Pan is one of 13 surviving lightships used by the US Coast Guard as floating lighthouses that warned other ships of submerged rocks or shallow ground. Over 133ft in length with a 30ft beam, the Frying Pan weighs in at around 632 gross tons. After a decade of disuse docked at an oyster cannery in Chesapeake Bay, the boat sank due, it’s thought, to a broken pipe. It lay at the bottom of the bay for almost three years before it was raised by salvors and purchased by John Krevey, a historical boat enthusiast, in the early 1980s.
Angela Krevey, his wife, recalls: ’A friend of John’s told him about this ship and at the time he was looking to create an event space that was by the water. Being from Seattle, John couldn’t understand why no one used the waterfront at the time. When he saw the ship, he fell in love with it. It was a dirty boat, but it was a piece of history.’
Krevey, who died in 2011, made the remarkable choice of keeping the boat’s interior intact, barnacles and all. He restored the boat’s exterior to its original form and installed a diesel truck engine, so that it could be sailed up to New York, where it resides today.
’John fixed it up over the course of three years,’ adds Angela. ’When he bought it, it was full of mud and covered in barnacles. He worked on it a lot and eventually put in a Volkswagen engine in it so that he could get it moving back to New York.’
Today, the Frying Pan is more than just a recovered wreck. In addition to being passionate about historic ships, Krevey was also a waterfront activist who campaigned for the regeneration of the decrepit Hudson River waterfront. In 1995, Krevey acquired an old railroad barge and converted it into a public-access boat landing, with Frying Pan as the main attraction. Pier 63 Maritime, as it was known, also housed a bar and restaurant that suited both locals and boat owners alike. When Hudson River Park Trust acquired Pier 63, Krevey moved everything to Pier 66 Maritime - another former railroad bridge - where the Frying Pan resides today.