Houston Maritime Museum

James Manzolillo is an extraordinary gentleman with a fascinating past. A sailor, shipbuilder, explorer, inventor and now  the founder and director of the Houston Maritime Museum. A museum which hosts a remarkable collection of model ships, marine artifacts, historic memorabilia and beautiful works of art, not to mention a gift shop filled with undiscovered treasures.

So if your in the neighborhood or even if your not drop by and experience this  very unique Museum and be captivated by a man who is truly one-of-a-kind.

Story and Photography by George Hosek

What caught my eye when I first entered the museum was a display of model warships packed into a small corner, the wall behind covered with old photographs and colorful posters.


Directly behind me was another small room, as I peaked inside I was surprised to see, a huge wooden ship in all it's stunning detail taking up the entire half of the room. A replica of one of the ships that first sailed to America, The Santa Maria.

The largest of the three, The Santa Maria was an estimated 98 feet long, with a 78.5 foot deck, breadth of 26' and the keel at 55.5'. Weighing in at 100 tons it took 40 men to sail her.

The main mast was taller than the ship was long. The main yard was as long as the keel.

Enclosed in a glass case at the other end of the room a model of the "Sovereign Of The Seas". The real Sovereign was built by King Charles and Peter Phineas Pett at Woolwich, it took three years and thousands of man hours to build.

Launched in 1637 and hailed as the biggest and most powerful ship of her time. She had a crew of 800 men, length of 234 feet, beam of 48 feet and height of 75 feet. The Sovereign was the first ship with over a hundred cannons that could fire a broadside of almost two tons of metal.

For 60 years no enemy could sink the Sovereign. Then in 1696 a cook left a candle burning in his cabin and she was consumed by fire.


The Merchant marine room hosts a variety of more modern ships and the history that goes along with them.

The Vasa, was ordered built by King Gustavus of Sweden. Set sail on her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628. Once at sea she caught the wind in her sails, the ship was forced on her side, allowing huge quantities of water to enter her gun ports. The bottom row was four feet above water level. The Vasa sank in 105 feet of water. On August 20, 1959 (331 years later) Vasa was raised from her watery grave.

Vasa is the oldest preserved and fully identified vessel currently known. She is berthed at the Vasa shipyard in Stockholm.
The H.M.S. Victory

Flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson who was killed onboard during the battle of Trafalger on October 21, 1825 against the French and Spanish fleet.

Victory had 102 cast iron cannons, ranging in size from 12 to 32 pounders on three decks with a range of one mile. From one mile away, 400 pounds of gunpowder could smash a 32 pound ball through two feet of solid oak.

Victory was manned by 750 officers and had a crew that included 22 Americans.

The gift shop is filled with many unique gift ideas in all price ranges. Beautifully crafted ships, picture frames, sea artifacts and much much more, you must see this gift shop to appreciate it!
Rent the Houston Maritime Ballroom for your next event, conveniently located next to the Texas Medical Center.

Event Rental available for weddings, meetings and business meetings and conferences. An 18 x 38' ballroom with polished hardwood dance floor and bar area which accommodates 40 people. Groups such as the CAMM, Captains Pilots of Houston (left) are welcome!

For more information, or to rent our space, please call us at (713) 666-1910 or email us at Houston Maritime Museum


The Houston Maritime Museum is located at 2204 Dorrington Street in Houston. One block South of Holcombe and one block East of Greenbriar, near the Medical Center.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. Also open Sundays and evenings by appointment. For more information, or to schedule a group tour, contact the Museum at 713-666-1910.

Houston Maritime Museum Membership
All members have free entry entry to the Museum.
All members are invited to cheese and wine cocktail party in December.
Members receive a 10% discount from the gift shop.
Discount cannot exceed dues and certain ship models are excluded.

Conatct Museum for details,

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