CHO Partners with SV Design to Develop CG36500 Lifeboat Preservation Building

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The Centers for Culture and History in Orleans (CHO) has announced a partnership with the Chatham-based architectural firm, SV Design to develop plans for a new building to permanently protect and display the famous CG36500 motor lifeboat.

Owned by the Orleans Historical Society for 42 years, the CG36500 Lifeboat is famous for its rescue of 32 crew members from the tanker Pendleton that split apart just east of the Cape in a raging nor’easter in February 1952. Its story was told in the 2009 best-selling book “The Finest Hours” that subsequently was made into a 2016 movie by the same name.

CHO, SV design
Pictured left: Sean Henry, senior project manager, SV Design; Thad Siemasko, principal, SV Design; Jay Stradal, CHO board chair; Lee Marchildon CG36500 coxswain; John Norton, CG36500 maintenance manager and crew member.

Every year, thousands of people come to Orleans from across the country and abroad to see the national treasure and hear about the ‘greatest small-boat rescue in Coast Guard history.’ The 77-year-old wooden vessel is fully restored and operational; however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and insure the boat – and to find experienced volunteers to operate it. The boat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The CHO recently secured funding to begin architectural and engineering plans for a multi-year project of constructing a permanent home to preserve the boat in Orleans and its Board found SV Design’s expertise and local connection to Cape Cod to be deciding factors in its selection.

“We are very excited to be working with SV Design on this community-based project to permanently protect the CG36500 and make it and its incredible story accessible to visitors year-round,” said Jay Stradal, CHO board chair. “After reviewing the credentials of 11 architectural firms and meeting with some of them, SV Design proved to be the best fit for us. They understood immediately the significance of this project and are personally committed to seeing it through from start to finish.”

The proposed building site is located next to the current CHO campus on River Road on land to be leased from the town pending voter approval next year. Some parts of the structure may be reminiscent of the U.S. Life-Saving Service “Red House” station that stood on Nauset Beach from about 1873 to 1936. While the Red House station and the CG36500 are from different eras, they represent the finest traditions of the Coast Guard and the nearly 400-year history of lifesaving on the Outer Cape.

“We envision the Lifeboat building to be a unique experience for visitors that will leave them inspired and connected to the rich history of the CG36500,” said Thad Siemasko, principal at SV Design. “We are honored to be partnering with the CHO to design a structure that not only preserves the boat, but respectfully displays the vessel and reflects the historical Cape Cod architecture of the other CHO buildings on the campus and in the community.”