The Swedish engineer and inventor, John Ericsson, designed the Monitor. And while the design was prime for river combat, she had trouble charting rough waters. On December 31, 1862, the ship sank off of the North Carolina coast, bringing 16 of the 62 crewmen with her to their death.
Despite the Monitor's sad end, Greenpoint residents still find pride in the ship which made history after it launched from their shores and are proud that their Brooklyn neighborhood played a big role in America's history.
Now, 150 years later, there will be a celebration to honor the historic launching of the USS Monitor, the ship that saved the Union, from January 28-30.
The Greenpoint Monitor Museum, a traveling museum which has been in existence for 15 years, will honor John Ericsson, builder Thomas F. Roland, the crew and the Continental Works workers who built the USS Monitor.
On all three days, residents and visitors alike will get to see how history was made, as well as be part of it.
“It's Greenpoint's history; it becomes part of you while you're growing up,” said Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, president of the museum. “We want the kids to grow up with this history and not forget all the sacrifices of the past.”
Her husband, George Weinmann, captain of the Oliver Tilden Camp #26, grew up with the Monitor in every way. One of his ancestors, Assistant Surgeon Grenville Weeks, was on the ship when it sank and luckily survived.
Growing up in Greenpoint, Weinmann also attended P.S. 110, the Monitor School. He also attended I.S. 126, named after Ericcson, the builder.
“It's something that's just ingrained,” said the lifelong Greenpoint resident.
The three-day-long event will have something for everyone – young and old.
On Saturday, January 28, there will be a history fair with speakers and displays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Capital One Bank (formerly Greenpoint Savings Bank). Thomas Fitch Rowland, the builder of the USS Monitor, was a first Trustee of the Greenpoint Savings Bank.
From 6 to 7 p.m. that night there will be a wine-and-cheese reception, before the Civil War Concert is held at 7 p.m. It will be held at the Church of Ascension. Rowland donated funds he earned from the construction of the USS Monitor to build the church, which was completed in 1865.
On Sunday, January 29, a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Ascension in memory of the USS Monitor, her builders, her crew and John Ericsson. At noon, a parade will march from the church to the Museum's land on the waterfront at Quay Street – the launch site of the USS Monitor. The land was donated by Motiva Enterprises.
Another ceremony will be held at the launch site at 12:30 p.m. A reception will be held at the Grand Prospect Hall later that day at 4 p.m. and will feature speakers, civil war dancing and presentations.
On Monday, January 30 at 9 a.m., a wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the USS Monitor Statue at McGolrick Park.
The events are sponsored by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War National Sesquicentennial Signature Event, The New York Department SUVCW, Oliver Tilden Camp #26, SUVCW, Co. I, 83rd New York Vol. (9th NYSM) Sons of Veterans Reserve, The Greenpoint Monitor Museum and the John Ericsson Society.
Lauletta-Weinmann is urging all residents to come out and be part of the celebration.
“It will give them a different look at history while bringing everything alive,” she said. “150 years doesn't come around often.”