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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Roland Read, 1973
BANCROFT (motor vessel)
Inventory No.: B-3700
Date Listed: 3/27/1980
Location: Fells Point, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1925
Description: The motor vessel Bancroft is a glass-cabin launch built in 1925 by the City of Baltimore. She is a documented work vessel of five net tons, licensed to carry six or less passengers for hire in the coasting trade. She has a registered length of 28.7 feet, her beam is 8.6 feet, and her draft is 2.6 feet. This vessel strongly resembles older steam launches in hull form. The hull has a moderate sheer, a straight keel with some drag, a founded forefoot with nearly straight and upright stem rabbet, upright stern post, and thin modified elliptical transom of moderate overhang. Her mid-section is formed with short rise floor on round bilges, and she has upright topsides. The trunk cabin is long and high with large rectangular drop windows. The hull is constructed of fir planking, copper sheathed, with oak frames. All repairs have been made in the original style. The vessel is gas-screw driven and was originally powered with a Palmer 2-cylinder reciprocating engine, which was replaced with a Chris-Craft 6-cylinder L-head engine in 1956. Significance: The motor vessel Bancroft was built by Baltimore City’s Bureau of Harbors under the supervision of Bancroft Hall, Harbor Engineer. From the 1890s through the 1940s vessels of her design were used as water taxis, crew boats, light freight handlers, pilot boats, delivery craft for ship handlers, etc. They were prevalent in servicing commercial vessels until after World War II, when boats with planing hulls, larger engines, and faster speeds replaced them. The Bancroft, once of many, is today one of only a few examples of this type on the East Coast. The Bancroft was used continually for pier inspection by the City of Baltimore Harbor Engineer until 1966, when the Baltimore Harbor Bureau was merged into the Maryland Port Authority. Subsequently she was auctioned as surplus property and privately purchased. She is presently licensed to carry six or fewer passengers in the coasting trade.


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