Caldwell Heritage Award

Bob Caldwell Image With Quote

Egan Maritime Institute is honored to announce a new community award, the Caldwell Heritage Award, named in honor of Robert Cary Caldwell, the visionary behind the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. This prestigious award celebrates 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.

Caldwell's legacy had a profound impact. His donation of the land at 158 Polpis Road and his leadership in opening the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum in 1968 were monumental. His determination and dedication led to the establishment of the first museum in America dedicated to honoring volunteer and professional lifesavers. Even after Egan Maritime Institute acquired the Museum, Caldwell’s vision continues to guide us, a testament to his enduring influence.

“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,” shares 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. Please use the following nomination form to submit a nomination. All submissions are due by June 24, 2024.


The 2024 Caldwell Heritage Award is generously supported by Nancy Seaman and Alan Schwartz.


Robert Cary Caldwell (1919-1995): Bob's passion for Nantucket and its history came naturally. Although he was a wash-a-shore, 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 passing on its lessons of community and self-sacrifice to its youth.