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The Ark of Hungerford Creek

German lifeboat did second duty as floating home and chapel

Originally a lifeboat from the 1906 passenger liner Mount ­Vernon, the Ark of Hungerford Creek has since served as a houseboat and a chapel. Robert Moeller, at left, has donated the vessel to the Calvert Marine Museum.

Touring the boats in the Patuxent Small Craft Center at the Calvert Marine Museum, you may notice a rather unusual looking model. Sitting near the Drum Point Lighthouse, this mash-up of houseboat and lifeboat is the Ark of Hungerford Creek.
    The story of this 30-foot wooden wonder began in the mid-1930s, when the Rev. Benjamin Lovett purchased a lifeboat from the 1906 passenger liner Mount Vernon, formerly the German Kronzprinzessin Cecilie. The Cecilie was seized by the U.S. in World War I and docked in the Patuxent River as part of the mothballed Ghost Fleet.
    Lovett had the lifeboat brought to his summer place on Hungerford Creek, hauled it out of the water and built a house on top. Part of the boat served as a chapel for weddings and baptisms; part was an occasional residence, complete with electrical service in later years.
    Perched on the banks of Hungerford Creek, the Ark was a familiar sight to boaters for more than 80 years. This summer, it was donated to the museum by Robert Moeller of Lusby. Moeller, a long-time Southern Marylander and general contractor, coordinated the relocation of the Ark — plus donations of labor and equipment to move the vessel.
    “We have tracked down several people who have connections with the Ark,” says Richard Dodds, curator of maritime history, who is researching the history of the Ark. “There is a gentleman in Baltimore whose father was a minister and friend of Rev. Lovett. His family used to spend the month of August on the property,” Dodds says. “We are also waiting to hear from a lady in Florida who was baptized on the Ark.”
    As well as stories, the museum is seeking a new home for this unique piece of Calvert County’s maritime heritage. In the meantime, the Ark awaits considerable repair to reverse the ravages of time and weather and a new cradle built to better support the hull.
    “The future is still uncertain for the Ark, although we will proceed to stabilize the boat and carry out a program of repairs when the weather gets a little cooler,” Dodds says.


Share your Ark stories with Dodds and the museum: doddsrj@co.cal.md.us.