Fundraising Topics

Beals Historical Lobster Boat Preservation Project Narrative

Lobster fishing in Maine is a crucial part of our heritage and our human experience as Mainers. On Beals Island, residents have made a living from the sea since our settlement in 1774. Nearly every man on the island has hauled lobster traps at some point or another. The lobster fishing industry is key to our culture and our sense of what it means to be from coastal Maine. This project seeks to help Mainers and visitors understand the important history of lobster boat building and understand how the evolution of the boats shaped the development of one of Maine’s most important economic activities. This grant is an opportunity for the EMCI to support the construction of a permanent space to not only preserve two unique and historic lobster boats, but also educate Mainers and visitors alike about a very important aspect of Maine’s past and present economy and indeed, our culture.

Our vision for the future is a permanent exhibit, open to the public year-round. We think the new exhibit will enhance the experience of area schoolchildren who visit our center for special tours. The boats strengthen the public interest in our heritage center and the photographs and documents we have connected to the boat building and lobster-fishing industries. The boats themselves are powerful artistically and historically. In viewing the boats, one comes away with the sense of human creativity and ingenuity as well as a sense of awe at lobstermen who brave the sea in all sorts of weather in such seemingly simple and small crafts. The humanities value of this project is amplified by the extensive collection of photographs, documents and artifacts that we have at our center documenting the boats’ provenance and the history of their construction and use in the community. For example, we have a copy of the expense record of all boats built by Harold Gower. The provenance for the Harold Gower boat in our possession includes all owners since it was first launched. Besides the boat, expense record, and provenance, we also display at our center a 19-page set of 16” x 20” posters depicting and describing Harold Gower building a cedar-planked boat. The oldest lobster boat, built in 1902 by well-known builder Maurice Dow for a Beals Island fisherman Lowell Beal, is the only one of its kind known to exist. In that era of boat building, there was an evolution occurring in lobster boat design, combined with the introduction of the internal combustion engine. The era of oar-powered lobster boats, such as rowboats, dories, pea pods, and sail powered boats, including the Friendship sloop, was giving way to boats of a different design, or boats that could be rowed, sailed, or power driven, called “reach boats.” The reach boat hull was somewhat of a schooner design, with a rounded stem and a slanted schooner-type transom stern, and rounded bilge. Your investment in our project would allow us to bring our collection of photographs and artifacts together with the boats themselves for permanent display to make the history truly come alive for the next generation.

Last year our fundraising effort for this project lead to the completion of the groundwork and 38’ x 40’cement slab. We are now raising funds to complete the structure. If we do not complete this project, we may lose these boats. Time and weather have taken a heavy toll on the boats, particularly the Maurice Dow model. Your investment will help us save these boats. We see construction of a permanent space to house and display the boats as a critical step in our long-term efforts to preserve the lobster boat building and lobster fishing history of Beals Island for the next generation. Our plans are for a simple structure, in keeping with the character of the island, much like our historical center next door, that is large enough to accommodate the boats, accompanying artifacts and the public viewers. At a future date, we hope to raise funds to restore the boats to their original beauty, but we cannot do that until we can protect what we have now. We would invite you to please contribute to our most worthwhile project. BHS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization so your contributions are considered tax deductible. If you would like to contribute, please make your check payable to: Beals Historical Society, PO Box 280 Beals ME 04611. Your contribution is much appreciated!

The Beals Historical Society is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization, therefore, all contributions are tax exempt.
Contributions can be made payable to:
Beals Historical Society, Attn: Treasurer, PO Box 280, Beals ME 04611
To contact the society, please email or call 207.497.2675
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Beals Historical Society, PO Box 280, Beals ME 04611,