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William Francis Gibbs

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NEWS
July 13, 2010
Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest has tossed the financial equivalent of a life preserver to the storied SS United States ocean liner. But Lenfest's generosity, coming as scrap bids were being sought for the ship moored in South Philadelphia, represents only a temporary reprieve. The up to $5.8 million pledge will cover an estimated $3 million purchase of the liner from Norwegian Cruise Line and the cost of maintaining the vessel for about 20 months. Remaining, though, is the enormous challenge of planning and financing its makeover.
NEWS
July 30, 2009 | By Robert Moran INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Local philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest has pledged a $300,000 matching grant to help a nonprofit purchase the SS United States, the iconic Cold War-era ocean liner docked in South Philadelphia. The record-setting 990-foot vessel, which has languished at Pier 82 for more than a decade, was offered for sale in January by Norwegian Cruise Lines for an estimated $20 million. A spokesman for the SS United States Conservancy was not immediately available yesterday to elaborate on the nonprofit's matching-grant announcement or say how much has been raised.
NEWS
February 11, 2015 | BY BOB STEWART, Daily News Staff Writer stewarr@phillynews.com, 215-854-4890
A SOUTH PHILLY resident since 1996, the record-setting, iconic ocean liner SS United States constantly needs funding to stay afloat. Well, an anonymous donor just buoyed it with $250,000. "We're singing from the rooftops - or whatever a maritime version of that would be," Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy, said yesterday. The massive ship (it's as long as the Comcast Center is tall) remains docked at Pier 82 on the Delaware River. The owners constantly stave off the threat of the ship being scrapped.
NEWS
April 18, 2003
Seven years ago, a city official dubbed the 17-story, five-block-long SS United States Philadelphia's largest abandoned vehicle. Unfortunately, the joke turned prophecy. Jet travel had forced the retirement in 1969 of the fastest luxury liner in history. Fate towed it around the world until it landed in Philadelphia in 1996. Year after year, new schemes arose to return the ship to its glory days, when the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy and a college student named Bill Clinton graced its decks to cross the Atlantic.
NEWS
April 1, 2013 | BY DAVID GAMBACORTA, Daily News Staff Writer gambacd@phillynews.com, 215-854-5994
SOME NIGHTS, the SS United States wakes Susan Gibbs from her sleep. She's shaken by the idea of the once-magnificent ship - whose hulking, rusted profile has loomed over Columbus Boulevard in South Philly since 1996 - meeting its end in some grim scrap yard. That nightmare scenario is set to play out, unless the SS United States Conservancy - the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that formed two years ago to revive the ship - can raise $500,000 in the next two months. "If we can hit that goal, it can buy the time we need to put the pieces in place to make something happen," said Gibbs, the executive director of the conservancy.
NEWS
July 2, 2010 | By CHRISTINE OLLEY, olleyc@phillynews.com 215-854-5184
As a child, Susan Gibbs heard stories of the obsession of her grandfather, William Francis Gibbs, with the SS United States, a luxury ocean liner he began building in 1950. "He called the ship every day she was at sea to check on her," said Gibbs, the president of the SS United States Conservancy, a Washington-based nonprofit whose mission is to save the ship from destruction. Gibbs announced yesterday that Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest has pledged $5.8 million to save the historic ship, whose owner had opened the door to its being sold for scrap.
NEWS
June 19, 2013 | By Melissa Chea-Annan, Inquirer Staff Writer
A rally to raise funds for the SS United States will be held Tuesday at LOVE Park as backers of the historic ship ramp up their efforts to save it. The SS United States Conservancy is $100,000 toward its goal of $500,000 just to maintain the 62-year-old, 1,000-foot ship, which still holds the trans-Atlantic speed record, said Thomas Basile, spokesman for the conservancy, formed two years ago to save the historic ocean liner. Monday night, the lights of the Peco building in Center City lit up with the "S.O.S.
NEWS
February 2, 2011 | By JULIE SHAW, shawj@phillynews.com 215-854-2592
You know that huge historic ship that is docked across from Ikea on Columbus Boulevard in South Philly? That's right, the SS United States. Well, the SS United States Conservancy, a Washington-based nonprofit group that formed to preserve and save the ship, announced yesterday that it now has title to the historic ship - with the help of philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest. The conservancy is searching for private and government partners to help it develop the ship into a multipurpose waterfront destination with a hotel, retail shops and a world-class museum, Dan McSweeney, executive director of the conservancy, said at a news conference yesterday.
NEWS
June 1, 2012 | By Stephanie Farr and Daily News Staff Writer
IN A NEW public-service announcement , former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil has a dark prediction: The United States is "only months away from possibly disappearing forever. "   It's the kind of talk you expect in political ads during an election year, but Vermeil isn't speaking out for politicians or espousing doomsday theories. He's rallying support for a $1 million campaign to keep the SS United States from becoming scrap metal. The ship's now known more for being the hulking behemoth rusting across Columbus Boulevard from Ikea in South Philly, but for decades it held the speed record for crossing the North Atlantic.
NEWS
June 19, 2014 | By Lydia O'Neal, Inquirer Staff Writer
To the casual eye, the SS United States is a floating heap of rust and peeling paint. To Jim Pollin, it is a testament to the greatness of its namesake. Standing at the deck of the ship's stern Tuesday morning, Pollin held an oversize check - and blinked away tears - as he announced his donation of $220,000. With that gift, he bought himself a 61,200-pound propeller. "I fell in love with the ship when I saw it from a river cruise," said Pollin, founder of travel management firm Pollin Group.
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NEWS
February 11, 2015 | BY BOB STEWART, Daily News Staff Writer stewarr@phillynews.com, 215-854-4890
A SOUTH PHILLY resident since 1996, the record-setting, iconic ocean liner SS United States constantly needs funding to stay afloat. Well, an anonymous donor just buoyed it with $250,000. "We're singing from the rooftops - or whatever a maritime version of that would be," Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy, said yesterday. The massive ship (it's as long as the Comcast Center is tall) remains docked at Pier 82 on the Delaware River. The owners constantly stave off the threat of the ship being scrapped.
NEWS
July 20, 2014 | By Lydia O'Neal, Inquirer Staff Writer
After 18 years of rusting away at Pier 82 in South Philadelphia, the iconic SS United States could be brought back to life - but in New York, officials confirmed Friday. "Currently, the negotiations that are most promising would place the ship in New York," Susan Gibbs, executive chair of the SS United States Conservancy and the granddaughter of the ship's designer, Philadelphia native William Francis Gibbs, said in an e-mail. "We do expect that the ship will survive, but only if we continue to galvanize further support and build on the powerful momentum now underway.
NEWS
June 19, 2014 | By Lydia O'Neal, Inquirer Staff Writer
To the casual eye, the SS United States is a floating heap of rust and peeling paint. To Jim Pollin, it is a testament to the greatness of its namesake. Standing at the deck of the ship's stern Tuesday morning, Pollin held an oversize check - and blinked away tears - as he announced his donation of $220,000. With that gift, he bought himself a 61,200-pound propeller. "I fell in love with the ship when I saw it from a river cruise," said Pollin, founder of travel management firm Pollin Group.
NEWS
March 6, 2014 | BY DAVID GAMBACORTA, Daily News Staff Writer gambacd@phillynews.com, 215-854-5994
CHRISTMAS is coming a little early this year for local history buffs and nautical fanatics. Starting Friday, the SS United States is going to be the focus of an engaging six-month exhibition at the Independence Seaport Museum. Best-selling British author and illustrator David Macaulay also will be at the Free Library of Philadelphia's central branch, at 19th and Vine streets, tomorrow to discuss the ship, which will be featured heavily in a book by Macaulay that's expected to be released later this year.
NEWS
January 6, 2014 | BY DAVID GAMBACORTA, Daily News Staff Writer gambacd@phillynews.com, 215-854-5994
YOU GOTTA SAY this much for the people who are trying to resurrect the SS United States: There's no quit in 'em. In April, the outlook was not good for the huge, historic vessel that has hovered like a specter over the South Philly waterfront since the mid-'90s. The SS United States Conservancy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that serves as the ship's caretaker, was at that time frantically trying to raise funds to help cover the steep cost - about $80,000 a month - of maintaining the ship and docking it at Pier 82 on Columbus Boulevard.
NEWS
June 19, 2013 | By Melissa Chea-Annan, Inquirer Staff Writer
A rally to raise funds for the SS United States will be held Tuesday at LOVE Park as backers of the historic ship ramp up their efforts to save it. The SS United States Conservancy is $100,000 toward its goal of $500,000 just to maintain the 62-year-old, 1,000-foot ship, which still holds the trans-Atlantic speed record, said Thomas Basile, spokesman for the conservancy, formed two years ago to save the historic ocean liner. Monday night, the lights of the Peco building in Center City lit up with the "S.O.S.
NEWS
April 1, 2013 | BY DAVID GAMBACORTA, Daily News Staff Writer gambacd@phillynews.com, 215-854-5994
SOME NIGHTS, the SS United States wakes Susan Gibbs from her sleep. She's shaken by the idea of the once-magnificent ship - whose hulking, rusted profile has loomed over Columbus Boulevard in South Philly since 1996 - meeting its end in some grim scrap yard. That nightmare scenario is set to play out, unless the SS United States Conservancy - the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that formed two years ago to revive the ship - can raise $500,000 in the next two months. "If we can hit that goal, it can buy the time we need to put the pieces in place to make something happen," said Gibbs, the executive director of the conservancy.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 6, 2013 | By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer
Reading her grandmother's diary descriptions on the way to Philadelphia, Susan Gibbs imagined the great ship in its heyday: ladies in their mink stoles, ballroom dancing, indoor pool, champagne, luxurious spa, and pleasant sea breezes. Her grandfather, William Francis Gibbs of Rittenhouse Square, had designed the world's fastest, safest, and most technologically advanced ocean liner - the SS United States - and saw its launch in 1951. His "queen of the seas" represented, for many, America's optimism and can-do spirit after World War II. The 2,000-passenger ship still holds the transatlantic speed record.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 20, 2012 | By Tirdad Derakhshani and INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Few symbols of power and national confidence are as concrete as the skyscraper — or the ocean liner. Now all but forgotten, grand ships such as the SS United States epitomized the spirit of the American Century. "It was a time," says Philadelphia author Steven Ujifusa, "when Americans thought big ... and ‘made in the USA' really meant something. " Ujifusa, 33, is the author of A Man and His Ship: America's Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S.S. United States (Simon & Schuster, $29.99)
NEWS
June 16, 2012 | By Julie Zauzmer and INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The fund-raisers have a direct and dramatic pitch: "Save the United States. " They don't mean the country. They mean the ship, now rusting on Philadelphia's waterfront across from an IKEA parking lot, that has held the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing since its maiden voyage in 1952. Today the SS United States will mark the 60th anniversary of that crossing with a ceremony including illumination of its distinctive stacks, the premiere of the second documentary film about the ship, and a special appearance by former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil.
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