Essex Shipbuilding Museum Announces New Schooner Project

The Essex Shipbuilding Museum is pleased to announce that master shipbuilder Harold Burnham will soon lay the keel of yet another Essex-built schooner, continuing the 350 year tradition of wooden boatbuilding in Essex, MA. A 38 foot long two-masted schooner, the ISABELLA, has been commissioned by William Greene, a long-time sailor and wooden boat enthusiast from South Dartmouth, MA on Buzzard’s Bay.

‘This is an inspiration to everyone interested in wooden boats.’ says shipbuilder Harold Burnham. ‘Wooden boats evoke strong feelings, even in our modern world. I’m glad to have this opportunity to fulfill the owner’s dream as well as continue the town’s shipbuilding history.’ ISABELLA will be a traditionally-built schooner using double-sawn white oak frames fastened with locust trunnels. Burnham is working in close consultation with the owner to design the vessel to meet his needs. A private yacht, she is similar in design and construction to fishing schooners built in the 1840s. The ISABELLA will be a coastal cruising schooner which the owner intends to sail with his 13 grandchildren. Work is already underway and Burnham and his crew will be building throughout the winter with a scheduled launch in late spring 2006.

The Essex Shipbuilding Museum is offering special tours of the H. A. Burnham shipyard and schooner ISABELLA on Thursdays and Saturdays at 1:00. ‘This is a great opportunity for people to see what used to be a common occurrence,’ says Randall Robar, the Museum’s Education Director. ‘This is the real thing. Essex has been building wooden boats for hundreds of years. The shipbuilding industry is a significant part of our heritage.’ Robar is also developing a series of related workshops and programming for school, scout, and tour, groups in conjunction with this exciting new boatbuilding project. For more information, you can reach him at the Museum at 978-768-6441.

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