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Last-Minute Donation Keeps Sailing Hall of Fame Afloat

“We want Annapolis to be known as the best city for sailing in the world.”

The National Sailing Hall of Fame is finally set to launch its next phase, thanks to a $250,000 donation from the Merrill Family Foundation, run by the three children of the late Capital and Washingtonian publisher Philip Merrill.
    “This comes from two things: our love of sailing and our love of Annapolis,” Cathy Merrill Williams said.
    “We want Annapolis to be known as the best city for sailing in the world,” she said.

“We see this becoming an anchor for the community,” said Cathy Merrill Williams.

    The state of Maryland had already ponied up a $250,000 grant — dependent on the Hall of Fame raising an additional $250,000.
    With the deadline for that matching grant fast approaching, the Merrill donation couldn’t have come at a better time.
    “I’m feeling pretty good about it,” said Gary Jobson, president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
    The Hall of Fame’s current offices occupy a small, waterfront building at 69 Prince George Street. The state-owned site was donated to the fledgling National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2004, contingent on the planned development that is now under way.
    The Sailing Hall of Fame can expand to the northwest along City Dock, where it has rights to the land now leased to Phillips Seafood for the Crab Deck at 14 Dock Street and the parking lot between the two buildings.

Sailing Hall of Fame president Gary Jobson envisions a more scaled-down facility than the artist’s rendition at top. “We’d rather have a slightly smaller building and get it done quicker and debt-free.”

    Early plans envisioned a $20 million project. But by selling its rights to the Crab Deck parcel, the Hall of Fame can cut that cost.
    “We’d rather have a slightly smaller building and get it done quicker,” Jobson said, “and debt-free.”
    Plans for the expanded Sailing Hall of Fame include maximizing its waterfront setting on Spa Creek and expanding on-the-water activities to promote sailing. The Hall also hopes to expand its classroom programs for schools, such as its online navigation courses to help boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.