Shipbuilding Still Thrives in Kennebunkport

In my last post I briefly mentioned the rich shipbuilding history of the Kennebunks.

During the first half of the 19th century, Kennebunkport, which is now home to whale-watching sKbporthips, lobster boats and pleasure boats, was an industrial landscape where Nathaniel Lord (owner of the Captain Lord Mansion) built his ships. Much of the harbor looked like the picture on the right, where Daniel and Stephen Ward’s shipyard bustled with the building of great sailing vessels. This photo was depicted on the Atlas Map of York County, published in 1856.


However, did you know that although those days of building grand ships with many masts have gone by, there is still some boat building going on in the Kennebunks?

On River Road in nearby Arundel is The Landing School, a fully-operational school where men and women come to learn the fine art of wooden boat building, from the past and for the future.

From the website we learn about its history:

"The Landing School was established in 1978 as a nonprofit, post-secondary institution dedicated to providing the highest quality hands-on education in boat building. Following the success of the first year’s students, the Yacht Design Program was added in 1979 to provide the marine industry worldwide with a source of new designers trained specifically in the techniques and aesthetics of yacht and commercial boat design. Two decades later, boatyards worldwide were struggling with a shortage of trained marine systems technicians. The Landing School responded to that need by launching the Marine Systems Program in September of 1999. At the same time, the school began a multi-year aggressive growth plan that resulted in a large addition to the facilities in 2007, providing room for the curriculum to expand again with the Composites Program."

This summer, the school took another step into boat bBoatsuilding history, when Maine’s state governor, John Baldacci, signed ”An Act To Provide Degree-granting Authority to the Landing School of Boat building and Design.”

This legislation enables the school to  expand its educational offerings. For example, the school may now proceed for national accreditation for its new Associate Degree in Applied Science program from the U.S. Department of Education.

And, quite simply, the boats built at the school are beautiful. If you are interested in visiting the school while staying at The Captain Lord Mansion let us know at the front desk.  We are pleased to give you directions, and perhaps even set up a tour of the school. 

Your Innkeeper – Rick Litchfield.

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