Saturday, November 1, 1930.

Got underway this morning and sailed joyously out of Mahon’s Ditch before a fresh northwest breeze. Headed for Cape May forty miles E.S.E. Had a glorious sail, strong wind….Widge behaved like a perfect lady.

– William L. Lathrop


Since his boyhood on the shores of Lake Erie, William L. Lathrop was an avid seaman. When he reached the age of 67, Lathrop decided to build the boat of which he had always dreamed. Aided by his son-in-law, Rolf Bauhan, and his friend and artist, Henry Snell, he completed his sloop in 1930, christening it the Widge, after widgeons, or sea-ducks. Widge was also the nickname of Lathrop’s first grandchild. For the next eight summers, Lathrop lived on the Widge, sailing along the northeast coast and savoring the freshness and challenge of seamanship, until he died tragically in a hurricane off Montauk in September of 1938.

Inspired by paintings by William Lathrop that will be on display as part of the new exhibit, Impressionism to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art, the archives has assembled a collection of items that relate to Lathrop. There is a display that is dedicated to his boat, the Widge.  Included are detailed plans for building the Widge, photos of the boat and a map.

Image Credit: Photos courtesy of Michener Art Museum’s Archives

Did you know that there is a video of Lathrop and his friends launching the Widge? Watch it here:


Be sure to check out the new exhibit Impressionisn to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art, opening on September 29th. While at the Michener, come down to the library to see the new display of Lathrop artifacts.