Last Surviving Ellis Island Ferry Transformed Into Historic Houseboat

by , 08/24/11
filed under: Architecture

houseboat, nyc houseboat, ellis island, ferry, yankee ferry, navid baraty, victoria and richard macKenzie-child

Before nestling in the New York harbor as a cozy residence, the Yankee Ferry had a very exciting career spanning over 100 years. Built in 1907, the Yankee was first designed to carry passengers between Portland, Maine and the Calendar Islands in Casco Bay. Then after a brief career in Boston, she was enlisted in World War I, armed with two one-pounder guns and used to transport men and supplies along the East Coast.

After the war, the Yankee moved to New York where she was used to ferry immigrants from their incoming ships to Ellis Island. As many passengers traveled below deck, their first sights of the new world were very likely from the deck of the Yankee.

After extensive restorations, Victoria and Richard purchased the boat and settled into their New York time capsule of a home. In keeping with the spirit of recycling and preservation, the couple have integrated the ship’s most characteristic features into their everyday lives. The passenger deck serves as a beautiful dining room and the helm makes a cozy office space.

Victoria has also built a “Polka Dot Garden,” of various vegetables growing out of 104 old truck tires on the adjacent dock. The garden includes a complete irrigation system running along the pavement, and Victoria reported corn growing over 9 feet tall last year. The couple also raise their own chicken aboard the ferry.

Registered as an historical vessel with the National Register of Historical Places, the Yankee is a truly special piece of New York history that we are incredibly grateful to still have, and to see in good hands.

+ Navid Baraty

All images © Navid Baraty



  1. David Kelly December 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm
    Wow just saw your houseboat on the travel Channel that is so awesome I would like to visit sometime if were up in that area.I heard it was also a bed-and-breakfast but I\\\'m not finding any area to show the rates and availability Will keep looking thanks for sharing your house and enjoy your life it\\\'s amazing David kelly
  2. Cgaux Steve Jones September 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm
    Pretty cool bit of living history
  3. Björn Luminaire September 19, 2013 at 6:07 am
    A wonderful rebirth for a piece of American History, looks like a great place to live & create
  4. Russell Day August 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm
    When I get back to the city, if ever, i'd like to have a good house boat. Berthing ships are desirable for such a world. You really needed to get along well with whomever might be required to be a captain. I didn't pursue living on this boat or maybe it was another boat because of the personal dynamic I felt between myself and the "Captain". So be aware of that stuff.