On December 25, 1929, the story of Mystic Seaport began with the incorporation of the Marine Historical Association by the three founders: Carl C. Cutler, a lawyer from a seafaring family who had made a voyage under sail himself; Charles K. Stillman, a New York doctor who had returned to Mystic to live in the house of his grandfather, shipbuilder Clark Greenman; and Edward Bradley, a local silk manufacturer who had made a voyage to China as a teenager.
In 1931 funds were acquired to help the Association buy the defunct textile mill behind Dr. Stillman’s house, and in September of 1931 the Museum’s first exhibit hall was set up in what is now the Wendell Building. Earlier that year, Dr. Stillman gave the Museum its first boat, the sandbagger racing sloop Annie. The public was first invited to the Museum in the summer of 1934, with one exhibit open on Thursday and Saturday afternoons. Second and third exhibit buildings opened in 1935 and 1938.

Mystic Seaport Museum Founders Edward E. Bradley, Carl C. Cutler, and Dr. Charles K. Stillman meet to incorporate the Marine Historical Association


  • 25 December — Edward E. Bradley, Carl C. Cutler, and Dr. Charles K. Stillman meet to incorporate the Marine Historical Association.




  • 3 September — First Annual Meeting, held at the home of Dr. Stillman.


  • The Museum’s first vessel, sandbagger Annie, presented by Dr. Stillman.
  • 9 September — The Museum’s first exhibit opens in Assembly Hall (Wendell Building) for second Annual Meeting of Members.
  • Museum property consists of 2 acres.


  • Spring — Economic crisis of the Great Depression leads to President Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”

The Museum's first vessel, sandbagger Annie, was presented by Dr. Stillman in 1931.1934

  • July – August ~ First public exhibits on Thursday and Saturday afternoons.


  • Summer attendance 184 (Admission $.25)


  • The Merchant Marine Act marks federal support for a strong American Merchant Marine.


  • 21 September — Unnamed hurricane devastates southern New England causing severe damage to the Charles W. Morgan which at the time was berthed in sand at Colonel Edward H.R. Green’s Round Hill estate in South Dartmouth, MA.


  • Spring — Benjamin F. Packard paneling and artifacts acquired before the ship is scuttled in Long Island Sound.
  • 1 July — Lighthouse service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard.