Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Success Ship Model

In a previous post I related the history of two models of the ship Success that had been created by professional modelers. I pointed out that these were but two of many models created memorializing this remarkable. It's time to continue that discussion.

Of all the models of the Success to surface over the years, perhaps the most unique--and by far the biggest--has to be one fashioned in the late 1930's by a Swedish immigrant. Here is his story.

John Hallen left his home in Warberg, Sweden, in 1906 at the age of 26 to begin a new life in America. After false starts, first in New York and then in Pennsylvania, the blue-eyed Swede, aw woodworker by trade, settled in  the tiny lumber town of Manistique on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In 1917, shortly after arriving, he and his wife, Elizabeth, purchased one of the town's oldest buildings for the nominal sum of $1. The building had served as a boarding house and the office for the Chicago Lumber Company. (The Consolidated Lumber Company maintained an office there until 1925.) John and Elizabeth converted the building into a hotel, naming it the Park Hotel.

To relieve the boredom of manning the desk at the hotel, Hallen would occupy his time with projects that showcased his skill as a woodworker. Where is first saw or read about the Success is not clear. The ship never visited Manistique, which was too small and off the beaten path to make a showing there financially viable. Perhaps he saw the ship while visiting Green Bay or one of the other ports on Lake Michigan where the Success made an appearance. (She had spent the entire year at Chicago in 1925, that city standing as one of its most successful show venues.) In any event, in the late 1930s Hallen began working on a ship model. A big one.

There is only one known photograph of Hallen with the finished model. In it, Hallen stands at the stern, smiling proudly. The photo was made into postcards. At nine feet in length and some six feet tall, it's the biggest ship model of the Success I have ever seen. The appears to be plenty of detail in the model, although the depth is wrong. (Hallen obviously never saw her in dry dock.)

It may not be the most finally crafted or detailed of Success ship models, but the one crafted by Swedish immigrant John Hallen is by far the the most unique.

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