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The Schooner “Thelma” c. 1910


The Thelma, a 62’ overall yacht, was built in 1890 for J. S. L. Wharton – a co-founder of Bethlehem Steel. Mr. Wharton and his large family summered in Newport for decades. However, as Quakers, they eventually found the “Gilded Age” of large mansions and flashy newcomers not fitting to their religious beliefs. In 1882, he purchased waterfront land in Jamestown and had a very large stone house constructed – to be named “Horsehead”. Mr. Wharton often sailed The Thelma from Jamestown into Newport Harbor.

In this photograph, at the tail-end of the boat (the transom) you can read “Thelma”, then under it, “Phila”. Joseph Wharton had been born in Philadelphia and wintered there. It was known as the boat’s “home port”.

Unfortunately, Joseph Wharton died less than 10 years after the Thelma was built. It was sold to James Mapes Dodge – the man with the moustache in this photograph. If you look on deck, between the two seated women, you will see an inverted megaphone, used to relay orders to the crew sailing the yacht.

An archival photograph printed on 100% cotton rag paper using the carbon-based Piezography process