The Retirement Years
1905 - 1930

H6-43-Photo of Holland at the Commercial Museum in Philadelphia in 1916

U.S.S. Holland being removed from
the Commercial Museum in Philadelphia, PA in 1916.

The USS Holland entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for an overhaul on July 20, 1905. The condition of the battery was so bad that the Board of Inspection recommended removing the battery cells from the boat and setting the battery up on the dock in order to provide easier access. The cells were removed in August 1905, but never re-installed. On June 24th, 1907, work on the USS Holland was discontinued until further notice. The official log ends June 30, 1907.1

The USS Holland was decommissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on November 21, 1910 and later moved to the United States Naval Academy.

The Navy Department sold the Holland to Henry A. Hitner's Sons Company of Philadelphia, PA for $1,066.50 on June 18, 1913. Henry A. Hitner's Sons had the Holland towed from Annapolis, MD to their "graveyard of ships" behind Petty Island on November 12, 19132. As she lay there, "partly buried in the sand, half-filled with the waters of the Delaware River, neglected and almost forgotten" she was "ripped apart, her engines removed and she [became] a mockery of the vessel she once was."3 On June 22, 1915, the Holland was moved to Port Richmond and the following day, it was lifted out of the Delaware River and placed on a flatcar for delivery to the scrapyard.

In early 1916, the Hitners moved the Holland to the Commercial Museum in Philadelphia where it was displayed as part of the Today and Tomorrow Exposition.

When Walter A. Hall, one of the original crew members, learned that the Holland was once again headed for the scrap heap, he obtained special dispensation from the navy department and a ten day stay of execution. On August 5,Walter Hall wrote to the editor of the New York Times seeking someone who would save the Holland.4

Dr. Peter J. Gibbons and his son Austin F. Gibbons of New York City heard the cry for help and purchased the Holland from Henry A. Hitner's Sons for $350 on August 11, 1916. 5 Dr. Gibbons then offered the Holland to the city which establishes the best claim to it.6 Eleven days later, Dr Gibbons announced that the Holland would become the property of the Museum of Peaceful Arts upon its arrival in New York.7 "The only proviso was that the old boat shall be exhibited for one year, beginning May 30 next, at the Bronx International Exhibition."8

On Columbus Day (October 12,1916), the Holland was escorted from the grounds of the Commercial Museum by the Mayor of Philadelphia, city officials, the commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and 350 navy personnel. The parade started at the Commercial Museum, and proceeded to Washington avenue via Thirty-fourth Street, Market Street and Broad Street.9

The Holland arrived in New York on May 25, 1917. She was to be displayed during the New York International Exposition in the Bronx as part of the Palace of American Achievements, however the Exposition did not open until July 1918 due to World War I.

The New York International Exposition never amounted to much. By 1924, the Exposition grounds had become known as Starlight Park. Starlight Park closed in 1930, but the Holland remained on the grounds until at least 1932.10

Sometime after the park closed, the Holland was purchased by Louis Gerson of the Harlem Metal Corporation for $100 and cut up for scrap. In 1948, the New York Sun quoted Louis Gerson as saying "You mention relics - sentiment and all that. Nothing doing here! I'm no idol worshipper. With me it was just a matter of an old boat with some good metal."11

  1. "Deck Log of the USS Holland", National Archives
  2. "Newspaper clipping", November 12, 1913
  3. "Newspaper clipping", March 13, 1915
  4. "The New York Times", August 5, 1916
  5. Newspaper clipping, August 10, 1916
  6. Ibid.
  7. "The New York Herald", August 21, 1916
  8. Newspaper clipping, August 16, 1916
  9. Newspaper clipping, October 1, 1916
  10. "The Maritime Engineer", September-October 1932.
  11. "The New York Sun", April 12, 1948

Copyright 1999,2000,2001,2002 Gary McCue