Boston – Originally from Longmeadow, Mass., Pamela Bates always found herself drawn towards the water, as she tells Preservation Magazine. This is how she and her husband came to move out to the Massachusetts coast, where they found Lowell’s Boat Shop, located on the banks of the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Mass.
As the country’s oldest operating boat shop, Lowell’s Boat Shop was first built by Simeon Lowell at 459 Main Street, Amesbury, Mass. The Lowell family maintained ownership of it until 1976. In 1992, it was finally sold to the Newburyport Maritime Society (NMS). Unfortunately, due to the difficulties of financially supporting the Shop, NMS could no longer keep the property and was forced to put it up for sale. Here, Pamela Bates comes into the picture. Wanting to ensure its preservation, and prevent developers from demolishing the waterfront property, Bates created a coalition, which would later become known as Lowell’s Maritime Foundation, to purchase the site and they have been operating the site ever since. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1988, and is a working museum as it continues its operations in producing traditional, hand-crafted dories and skiffs.
Throughout the Foundation’s ownership of Lowell’s Boat Shop, Bates has worked for the operation to receive funding to restore the property to its original glory, all while never taking in any profit for herself. She has dedicated herself to the growth of the establishment for almost a decade, which as resulted in a gradually growing staff and production output. Most currently, Lowell’s Boat Shop has started offering classes and apprenticeships to locals schools and youths in the hopes of extending the Lowell’s craft for many more years to come.
Photo from Jet Lowe, Wikipedia, based on a work of the National Park Service.