“Mongolia” and The Fateful Photo
In March of this year, Evan Blum was working in his store when one day a man came in and inquired about a photo that adorned the stores back wall. An artist and preservationist for “45 years or so,” Blum owns Demolition Depot and Irreplaceable Artifacts, converting and repurposing historic fixtures from landfills and demolished buildings.
Blum followed the man and saw the photo, one of four in Blum’s Rosenfeld collection. Rosenfeld served as one of the preeminent naval photographers in the early to mid twentieth century. This particular photo displayed a Victory Class Sloop; “I was totally baffled as to how this piece of my collection would end up on the wall of my saleroom.”
Growing up on Manhasset Bay in Long Island, Blum was familiar with the Victories, having grown up sailing them throughout his teens and early twenties. Accompanied by a buddy, Blum would cut school when “the wind was really blowing and surf the boat.”
Curious, Blum shared that the photo was not for sale before sitting it at his desk and googling “Victory sloop for sale” as he describes, “for the hell of it.” Blum had previously looked into purchasing a Victory Class Sloop 25 years earlier, but had found that it had not been restored in a manner true to its original appearance and form. Therefore, when the search results displayed Mongolia, Blum “knew he wanted her.”
Within an hour of calling the vessel’s broker, Blum was the new owner of the Victory-class vessel which had been donated to his business. He soon came to realize that Mongolia was the exact same vessel pictured in the Rosenfeld photo that had fatefully made its way to his desk that day, bearing the same #14 on the vessels’ hull.
The JP Morgan family commissioned 20 of the Victory Class Sloops, wanting a state of the art vessel, “the fastest boat design of its day.” The Victory Class was formed in 1919 post World War I in a bid to revive the sport of yachting, and named in tribute to those yachtsmen that participated in WWI. Mongolia was built in 1920 by Henry Nevins Yard in City Island, NY.
She would trade hands several times before landing in the Portsmouth storage unit that Blum would move her from after purchase, before moored in Jamestown, RI. She came into Blum’s hands fully restored, and was “very well taken care of.” Blum “spruced her up a bit” and put on a few extra coats of varnish before taking her on the water. “She really just looks and sails great. I love her sleekness.”
Since acquiring her in March, Blum, a veteran sailor and racer, has proudly used her to give tours to the patrons and members of his organization, offering tours of the Newport mansions from the water. “She really serves a good purpose. She is helping us raise awareness about preservation.”