George Preston Blow, son of Judge George Blow, Jr., and Elizabeth Taylor Allmand, was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1860. He was enrolled in the United States Naval Academy at the age of 15 - one of the first Southerners allowed to matriculate after the Civil War - as a member of the class of 1881. Shortly after his graduation, he was a member of the volunteer crew of the USS Pinta on its controversial trip from Norfolk to Alaska via Cape Horn in 1883. He later served on the USS Pensacola under Captain George Dewey in the Mediterranean. In 1887 he was appointed navigation officer for the attempts to raise the treasure ship DeBraak in Delaware Bay. In 1890 as aide to Admiral Brown, he was detailed to King Kalakaua of Hawaii during the king's fatal visit to California and was later knighted by Queen Liliuokalani (He was not authorized by Congress to accept the honor until March, 1897. The decoration was then forwarded to him by the Navy Department and was lost on the Maine - along with everything he owned onboard). He died in Washington D.C. in 1922 survived by his wife and four children and was buried with the Naval Academy Class of 1881 in Arlington National Cemetery. After his death and in his memory, his wife donated the funds to build a new gymnasium for William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, now known as Blow Memorial Hall. In 1893, he married Adele Matthiessen of LaSalle, Illinois. In 1894 while awaiting assignment in Norfolk, he patented a new pistol.
Blow Gymnasium at William & Mary was named to honor George Preston Blow.
Materials in the Special Collections Research Center
- Search "George Preston Blow" in SCRC database.
- Photos in SCRC of Blow Hall Tribe Trek: Blow Memorial Hall, Constructed 1923-1925.
- George Preston Blow, Arlington National Cemetery website, accessed August 30, 2009.
- George Preston Blow Naval History and Heritage Command, accessed August 26, 2016.