Essex Shipbuilding Museum Announces Keel Laying Ceremony for New Schooner

News media and the public are invited to the keel laying ceremony for the schooner ISABELLA on Saturday, November 12. The vessel’s owner, William Greene, will give a keynote speech and Master Shipbuilder Harold Burnham will be on hand to lead a special tour of the Burnham Shipyard.

Other ceremony participants will include some of the owner’s nine children and thirteen grandchildren as well as Essex Shipbuilding Museum President, Captain Tom Ellis.

The ceremony will begin at 1:00 P.M. at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. The keel-laying ceremony is a centuries-old tradition, and is the first major milestone in a new boat building project. Historically, the initials of the guests of honor would be written on the keel, or timber backbone of the ship. All visitors to this ceremony will be invited to sign the keel of the ISABELLA. Following the ceremony, cider and snacks will be served in the Museum’s Waterline Education Center.

The ISABELLA will be a 38′ traditionally-built wooden schooner and is the latest of the hundreds of vessels built in Essex over the past 350 years. Building will continue throughout the winter with a scheduled launch in late spring 2006.

The Essex Shipbuilding Museum offers a special weekly tour of the Burnham shipyard and schooner ISABELLA every Saturday at 1:00 PM.

About the Essex Shipbuilding Museum

The Essex Shipbuilding Museum tells the extraordinary story of a small New England village that built more two-masted wooden fishing schooners than any other place in the world. Preserving the history of the wooden shipbuilding industry, an integral part of the economy and culture in New England and the United States since the 1630’s, the Museum maintains one of the best maritime collections in the region. Museum projects have built or interpreted schooners, Chebacco boats, sailing lighters, dories and privateers. The last intact American fishing schooner, the EVELINA M. GOULART is currently being preserved and documented. Innovative, experiential educational programs teach concepts through a rich mix of content knowledge and hands-on activities for children, adults, seniors and educators from around the world. Located in the heart of Essex, Massachusetts, the Museum is adjacent to an acre of land set aside in 1668 ‘for a yard to build vessels and employing workmen for this end’ and is integral to the town’s historic character, scenic vista and central river basin. Features include antique shipbuilding tools, photographs, documents, and exhibits portraying the shipbuilding industry. Tours include video presentations and hands-on activities. A gift shop offers ship plans, maritime books, and other nautical memorabilia. For current events, exhibits and programs, please call 978-768-7541 or visit

About Burnham Boatbuilding

Following a local tradition of boatbuilding spanning three centuries, Harold Burnham’s resume includes the 65′ charter schooner THOMAS E. LANNON; the LEWIS H. STORY, a representation of a 17th century Chebacco boat; and the 62-foot replica of a War of 1812 privateer, FAME. In addition to design and building, Burnham Boatbuilding also saws ship timber, builds sails, and repairs and rebuilds traditional boats. For more information, please visit our web site at or call 978-768-2569.