The first thing a visitor may notice after stepping on board the sloop-of-war USS Constellation is the smell. The air belowdecks is heavy with the aroma of fresh pitch and hewn fir and ipe wood, because much of her is quite new. Ongoing restoration work is bringing the Constellation back to shipshape, and new exhibits have given a breath of fresh, pitch-perfumed air back to the once-neglected vessel—the last all-sail ship designed and built for the U.S. Navy.
Docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor since 1968, she was to be the centerpiece of a revitalized, renewed downtown. Time, lack of funds, and neglect took their toll, requiring extensive renovations and drydocking in the late 1990s to stabilize her structure. Today, the Constellation is under the stewardship of Historic Ships in Baltimore, which also oversees the submarine Torsk (SS-423), Treasury-class Coast Guard cutter Taney (WHEC-37), lightship Chesapeake (WLV-538), and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.