FREEPORT — Throughout the years, the Mystery Boat in Freeport has proven to be a beloved landmark of the city, and the former shrimp boat is in the process of getting a facelift after decades of wear and tear and instances of trespassing.
A tribute to the shrimping industry that once drove Freeport’s economy, the Mystery transformed into a city landmark after being retired in about 1965, Freeport’s unofficial historian, Nat Hickey, previously told The Facts.
The boat’s interior has become rotten and worn, and the first phase of restoration will be to make sure there is stronger structural support, Freeport Parks and Recreation Director Kim Townsend said.
The city budgeted $30,000 for the first phase and she is currently getting estimates for future restoration work, Townsend said.
Brazos Industries is in charge of the first phase of the renovation, and the main focus is cleaning the boat after trespassers got on board and left a lot of trash, president David Galloway said
“It really caused an issue inside the boat,” he said.
About a dumpster’s worth of trash has been cleaned out, and the next steps are working on the roof and adding adequate drainage to the boat so it does not hold any rainwater inside and cause the wood structure to continue to rot, Galloway said.
The second restoration phase will be replacing the boat’s mast and outriggers, Townsend said.
She has received community support from organizations wanting to help with the ship’s upkeep, Townsend said.
“I have spoken to several churches and youth groups that wanted to come and maybe help paint the red and do the finishing touches,” she said.
Townsend has worked on renovating the boat for more than two years and it means a lot to her, she said.
“There is a lot of history between family here, people that have worked on it, people that still want to see it restored,” she said. “It has become a Freeport icon.”
The community has clearly admired the boat for decades, and it is important to do this job right, Galloway said.
“That is the reason why we want to go above and beyond and make sure it is taken care of because we value the community and it is an asset to the community,” he said.
She feels a duty to restore the ship to its former glory because pieces of history need to be preserved, Townsend said.
“I do know that history, we can’t ever replace it once it is gone,” she said. “Once it is restored, I think it will live here another 30, 40, 50 years.”