Historic Sites, Museums & Galleries, Amesbury

Rolling on a river: A visit to Lowell’s Boat Shop & Museum

WHAT:A working boat shop that just happens to be a living museum, too
WHY:Because the North Shore is all about boats, and the dory started it all

Lowell’s Boat Shop has sat comfortably on the north bank of the Merrimack River for over 200 years, and remains both a boat building operation and a working museum. Its primary product then and now is the legendary fishing dory which was integral to Gloucester’s fishing fleet in the days of sail. It remains America’s oldest operating boat shop.

My museum visit was informal and informative. Boats under construction included a launch destined for Ireland and a Haven 12 1/2 sailboat. I was able to ask questions of the craftsmen about the boats they were working on as we walked through the shop, and my tour guide Patty was knowledgable and patient with all of my questions. We stopped by a separate workspace designed for boatbuilding classes where we found a teacher preparing for an after-school session with younger mariners.

Heading down a narrow flight of stairs takes you to a number of displays and an informative video that tells the story of the boatbuilding industry in Amesbury and its importance to New England fisheries.

Admission is a reasonable $5 for a self-guided tour, and $8 includes a guide. There are discounts for seniors and kids under 12 enter free. If you’re visiting Amesbury or Newburyport on Boston’s North Shore, consider a visit to this fascinating example of living history.


Morning Buzz Cafe
37 Friend St, Amesbury | 978-792-5394
Homemade breakfast and lunch with friendly service

Flatbread Company
5 Market Square, Amesbury | 978-834-9800
Wood-fired pizza in brick & stone digs next to the museum

Market Square Bakehouse
5 Market St, Amesbury | 978-792-5237
Fresh-baked goods, great coffee, soups, salads, paninis