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Wooden boat building
Michael Browne at Lowell's Boat Shop, Wooden boat building, 2003; Michael A. Browne; Amesbury, Massachusetts; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Michael Browne at Lowell's Boat Shop, Wooden boat building, 2003
Michael A. Browne
Amesbury, Massachusetts
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Skiff on display at Lowell's Boat Shop; Wooden boat building; 2003: Amesbury, Massachusetts
Christopher Rodgers planing; Wooden boat building; 2003:
Lowell's Boat Shop sign through window; Wooden boat building; 2003:
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Michael A. Browne
Amesbury, MA
Web Site
Michael A. Browne builds small boats out of native soft and hardwoods, closely adhering to forms and patterns traditional to the Merrimack River Valley. Browne utilizes a traditional dory style of construction that has been used for over 200 years. The style consists of a longitudinally planked flat bottom boat with sawn frames and lap-strake sides. Created by Simeon Lowell in 1793, this style was shaped by demand for particular uses, including setting trawl lines on the Grand Banks, traveling through breaking surf onto beaches, crossing the river and recreation. Built along the Merrimac River, the Grand Bank dories contributed to the growth of Gloucester's fishing fleet, which grew to be the largest in the world during the 19th century. Browne talks of the shop's significance, "This place is very important because it's been in continuous operation for over two hundred years. . . . Fishermen for years have sworn by this boat and thought they could go out in anything short of a hurricane with one of our Amesbury skiffs."

Browne was taught by master builder Peter Gibb, known for his meticulous craftsmanship and consistent documentation of the Lowell's traditional boat building style. Mike Browne has been largely responsible for once again making the Lowell Boat Shop a commercially viable boatyard. Browne worked with apprentice Christopher Rodgers on developing the skills and techniques required in creating a traditionally built dory style boat. The pair were awarded a Mass Cultural Council Traditional Arts Apprenticeship in FY02, which helped make passing on the craft economically feasible. "We have a very involved method and it's hard to bring somebody along with it. It's a very long process to get through from start to finish. And so this apprenticeship is an opportunity for me to slow down and realy instruct him in each of those steps, in a way that we can cover our costs."
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