Welcome to my newsletter where I share updates about my writing projects and discuss the importance of historic places.
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Volume 1, Issue 1, May 19, 2016
I have started this newsletter as a companion piece to my website. I will be sharing information about my writing projects and how historic places can inspire and educate. I will also be highlighting at least two museums or other historic sites in each issue.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins  
South Street Seaport Museum
I got the idea for my first novel, The Unicorn Tree, from maritime museums, historic house museums and 19th-century ships along the northeast coast. The book contains scenes of people waiting on the pier for ships to arrive or depart, descriptions of sail training and ship restoration, the Fourth of July celebration on the waterfront, and restaurants and shops with a nautical theme. These events were inspired by life at waterfront locations like South Street Seaport Museum in New York City.
schooner Pioneer at South Street Seaport Museum. (photo by Waterfront Alliance, used with permission. All rights reserved).The ships that make up the museum’s fleet take visitors back to the schooners, cargo ships, lightships, and tugs of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Sail training aboard the schooner Pioneer (1885) is available for qualifying museum volunteers and supervised by licensed captains. Public sails, charters, and educational sails for school children provide a New York Harbor view of maritime history and how that has changed over the centuries. Check the museum website for information about the sailing schedule.
In addition to the waterfront and ships, the museum has an extensive collection of artifacts from the Age of Sail and Port of New York history. At one time, clipper ships filled the harbor after weeks and months at sea, with cargo from ports throughout the world ready for unloading at South Street. Business transactions took place in the counting houses in the area. Items in the collection are available for viewing in the lobby of the museum's administrative building at Schermerhorn Row, a row of buildings built on land-filled water lots by Peter Schermerhorn in 1811.
Noble Maritime Collection at Sailors' Snug Harbor
Before the days of social security and other retirement programs, a sailor who became too ill or too old to continue his work at sea had to rely either on his savings or his family for support. Without that, he often had  no means of income or medical care. Sailors' Snug Harbor on Staten Island was created as the first retirement home for sailors and opened in 1833. Its residence halls, hospital, chapel, laundry facilities, and other buildings made it self-sufficient.
This facility was the dream of a millionaire and sea captain, Robert Richard Randall, who envisioned a place where sailors could live and receive the care they needed without worrying about money. Capt. Randall died in 1801 and his will stipulated that his money would be used to build a "Marine Hospital, to be called 'Sailor's Snug Harbor'  for the purpose of maintaining and supporting aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors."
The Noble Maritime Collection is a museum in one of the front five original buildings. Its exhibits tell the story of what life was like for the residents (called inmates) at Snug Harbor, their hobbies, concerts, rules, etc. Visitors can see a restored room that was typical for those who lived there, and enjoy a stroll around the grounds to watch the ships as the sailors did long ago. 
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The Unicorn Tree
A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –
The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –
And the special place that binds them…
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia CollinsLisa Duncan, a seventeen-year-old high school senior, has an assignment to tour a historic site and write a report about it. She chooses Mirabelle Manor, a large estate overlooking the ocean, built by a nineteenth-century sea captain for his wife. During the tour, she thinks Mirabelle's portrait is watching her. One of the items on display is a diary, open to a passage about going to a place called the unicorn tree to watch for ships. Lisa’s brother is currently on a commemorative voyage, sailing across the Atlantic. When news arrives that his ship is lost at sea, her interest in the diary changes from curiosity to determination as she searches to discover what happened to him.

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at

The photo of the schooner Pioneer was used with permission, courtesy of Waterfront Alliance. All rights reserved.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact:
Cynthia Collins at 

Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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