Boat Shop Museum
The Boat Shop and Museum, and the preservation of each distinct part, are essential to our mission. In its 3rd century of operation, Lowell’s Boat Shop is now a working boat shop and living museum. LBS continues to build dories and skiffs in the time-honored tradition of seven generations of the Lowell family that owned and operated the Boat Shop. Its rich history is conveyed through boat building, model dory and apprentice classes, onsite programming for scouts and local schools, and interaction with at-risk youth groups.
Located on the picturesque banks of the Merrimack River, LBS is the sole survivor of the industries for which the Merrimack River Valley region was known. From George Washington to Barack Obama, Lowell’s has prevailed through every US presidency on the property purchased by founder, Simeon Lowell, in the 1700s. It was here that Simeon originated the legendary fishing dory, and his grandson, Hiram, developed the renowned banks dory that became a mainstay of New England’s fishing fleets. An historian remarked, “The dory was to the fisherman as the hammer was to the carpenter.” Hiram’s seminal form of assembly line production made Lowell’s the world’s preeminent dory manufacturer of its day, and it is said to have greatly influenced Henry Ford’s mass production processes.
Within these buildings remnants of past generations speak volumes of the rich history that lives on at LBS; ancient ship’s knees, support beams and two centuries of accumulated paint coat the floors. The oldest buildings remaining on the site are combined Greek Revival structures that were built in the 1860s housing a cross-beam where annual production figures, branded into the wood from 1897 through 1919, reveal that an astonishing 2,029 boats were built here, by hand, in 1911. This remarkable boat shop is one of one and proudly stands as an icon of New England ingenuity and integrity.