1939 – BARK CLOTH (TAPA) COVERED BOOKLET FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE SAMOAN LIBRARY IN FAGATOGO, TUTUILA, SAMOA

PUBLIC WORKS OF THE NAVY – BULLETIN NO. 41 – CONSTRUCTION OF THE SAMOAN LIBRARY IN FAGATOGO, TUTUILA, SAMOA – JULY 1939 – 76 pages, B&W illustrations, warmly inscribed by the author, P. J. Halloran – (Commodore P. J. Halloran, CEC, USN, Officer in Charge, Sixth Naval Construction Brigade). Book measures about 6 /12 inches by about 9 5/8 inches. The special thing about this item is the association of this copy, and its being bound in Tapa Cloth which is made from the inner bark of mulberry or breadfruit trees.

This is a paragraph from the two page letter laid in. This paragraph gives detail on this item. The letter is from P. J. Halloran at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, VA, and dated November 12, 1941. He wrote this booklet while a Lieutenant Commander and built this library. In the letter he says, “I consider it perhaps the highlight of my experience with the Civil Engineer Corp of the Navy.”

the below image shows the inscription from Halloran to Edmund A. Prenits – more on him later.

there is a separation at this point (last page) from the stapled booklet. Taped to the backside of this page is the authors’s reprinted article from “Civil Engineering” of December, 1939 – four pages, and a fascinating read as well.

and this image below shows the letter, and the article reprint (which is taped in after the last page) shown here only partially opened out.

The recipient of this book appears to have been Edmund A. Prentis (1883-1967). Offspring named for him included a II, III and IV, but time wise, the book and letter were given to the senior. Mr. Prentis received a Mining Engineers degree at Columbia in 1906. As an engineer, he founded the international engineering company Spencer, White and Prentis Inc. of New York. He served as director of several important projects, including reconstruction of the White House, construction of tunnels for New York subways, a water tunnel under the Hudson River, and drydocks for the United States Navy. Mr. Prentis was a student of early American history and art and was considered an expert and a collector of early Americana. With his sister, Mrs. Katherine Prentis Murphy, Mr. Prentis donated three rooms at the New York Historical Society, containing collections of early American furniture and art.

A link to more background research – http://worldcat.org/identities/lccn-no2001000138/

The author of the book and writer of the presentation letter, was important as well. As Commander of the Seabees of the Sixth Naval Construction Brigade (6NCB), Commodore Paul James Halloran, Civil Engineer Corps, USN, in 1944 built the largest airport then in the world. North of Guam, Tinian’s B-29 airport consisted of North Field and West Field. North Field had about 13 miles of taxiways and runways and West Field was only a fraction smaller.