“I don’t want to be the last boat builder” Harold A. Burnham
In an age of mass-produced fiberglass hulls, Essex shipwright Harold Burnham has reintroduced the use of locally harvested timber and essentially revived once dormant shipbuilding techniques. National Heritage Fellow Harold A. Burnham is a master of heavy construction wooden boat building, a legacy dating back to the 1630s in the small coastal town of Essex, Massachusetts.
This short film features master wooden boat builder Harold A. Burnham. Shot both in the Burnham ship yard and on the water, the film touches on shipbuilding in Essex, the Burnham family, learning from old-time boat builders, designing boats using half models, milling lumber, lofting, framing, community involvement, navigating on the water, maintaining a wooden boat, and rehabilitating a historic schooner.
Credits: Produced by Blake Road Productions, LLC for Mass Cultural Council, with support from NEA Folk & Traditional Arts. Co-Directors/Producers: Maggie Holtzberg, Daniel Jacobs; Cinematography/Editor: Daniel Jacobs; Drone Operator: Jeremy Rothman; Music: Art Maks, Maggie Holtzberg, Mitch Nelin, Kevin Sorupa, and How to Change a Flat Tire. Photograph of Harold Burnham Shipyard by Maggie Holtzberg.