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Friday, July 07, 2006

New Owners Wanted: Lowell Boat Shop

In the face of worsening financial woes followed by heavy storm and flood damage this spring, the Newburyport Maritime Society has shut down the Custom House Museum on the Newburyport waterfront for the season.

The dire financial situation has also led the maritime society board to concede it can no longer run both the Custom House and Lowell's Boat Shop, which it bought in 1994.

After several months debating the boat shop's future, board members and volunteer society director Patricia Dorfman said the board is ready to break away from Lowell's, the 212-year-old institution regarded as the country's oldest continually operating wooden boat-building business.

Dorfman said a task force of the maritime society board is negotiating with various groups, including the Lowell's Boat Shop Trust, a private nonprofit group of local individuals that formed in 1992 to preserve the shop's storied boat-building tradition.

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