Egan Maritime Launches New Caldwell Heritage Award

Nantucket Current •

Robert Cary Caldwell

Egan Maritime Institute has announced a new community award, the Caldwell Heritage Award, named in honor of Robert Cary Caldwell, the visionary behind the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. The award will celebrate individuals who, like Caldwell, play a pivotal role in preserving and promoting Nantucket’s maritime heritage, including its lifesaving traditions and narrative history.

"The award is a testament to our community's collective efforts in safeguarding our rich maritime legacy," Egan Maritime stated in its announcement.

Caldwell's donation of the land at 158 Polpis Road and his leadership in opening the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum in 1968 was "monumental," Egan Maritime added.

The property become the  first museum in America dedicated to honoring volunteer and professional lifesavers.

“As an organization, Egan Maritime Institute is committed to ensuring that Nantucket’s maritime past continues to be woven into the present, preserving its stories and traditions for future generations. The creation of the Caldwell Heritage Award is an example of how Caldwell's legacy continues to influence the organization today,” said Egan Maritime executive director Carlisle Jensen. “We are proud that Maritime crafts and technical skills are now being taught at 158 Polpis Road, which Bob Caldwell would have embraced.”

The Caldwell Heritage Award recipient will be honored at Egan Maritime’s annual Night at the Museum fundraiser on July 12th. To submit a nomination, please use the following link to access the nomination form. All submissions are due by June 24, 2024.


Robert Cary Caldwell (1919-1995): Robert's (Bob) passion for Nantucket and its history came naturally. Although he washed ashore, he spent every summer in Nantucket from infancy. A descendant of the Cary and Folger families, he always knew he belonged to the island. As an 18-year-old, he worked his way across the Atlantic and returned to Nantucket, which he called home thereafter. His active civic contributions to the island were shaped by his interest in the sea, wartime Coast Guard experience, and a love of collecting and replicating its history as a painter, carver, and model builder. He was one of those few who worked tirelessly to preserve the island’s seafaring history, especially to pass on its lessons of community and self-sacrifice to its youth.

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