Historic Figurehead Donated to Museum

Feb 28, 2014

The surviving portion of the figurehead from the Lammermoor (below) that the late John LeBaron donated to the Sonoma County Museum last month.
Credit Sonoma County Museum

The Sonoma County Museum offers exhibits of both fine art and local history, and in the latter category, they have just announced an unusual new addition to their permanent collection. Bruce Robinson gets us a bit of a preview.

Further details from the Museum's announcement of the acquisition:

The Lammermoor was a 1,710 ton iron vessel that wrecked approximately one-half mile southeast of Bodega Head in June of 1882. On passage from Australia to San Francisco in very thick weather, the vessel struck the reef just offshore. The Lammermoor was owned by Williamson, Milligan Co., London, and was built  in 1874. J. Williamson and W. C. A. Milligan of the Waverly Line, were two of the best-known owners of iron clippers in Liverpool. All their vessels were named after characters in Sir Walter Scott's stories, and they all carried lavish decorations of scenes and portraits from the Waverly novels. Lammermoor, and two of her sisters, Ivanhoe and Cedric the Saxon, were  widely considered to be "three of the most beautiful iron clippers that ever left the ways."

The figurehead was salvaged from the wreck by William Murray, who placed it outside the Murray House, an inn and tavern in the town of Bodega. It remained there for decades when it was knocked down and damaged in the 1906 earthquake. Soon to be used as firewood, the head was rescued by Art LeBaron, related to the Murrays by marriage. The figurehead later became the property of Art's son, John.

Objects donated to the Sonoma County Museum are received by the Museum's Collections Committee before they become part of the permanent Collection.