Richardson Maritime Museum marks 25th

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CAMBRIDGE — A milestone is fast approaching for Richardson Maritime Museum as it celebrates its 25th anniversary on Saturday, at Three Sixty at the River’s Edge. “This is an occasion to celebrate our maritime history and 25 years of advancing a critically important cultural and educational organization” stated Martin Hardy, chairman of the Board of Directors.
In 1992, a group of friends gathered to discuss developing a museum to honor Captain Jim Richardson who was dedicated to the traditional wooden boatbuilding skills and to passing on those skills to new generations of boatwrights. He never claimed to be a “Captain,” but it is the respectful way many people referred to him, as well as, “Mr. Jim.” His commitment inspired the founders of the Museum to establish an organization dedicated not just to preserving his memory, but to continuing his efforts at keeping the art of wooden boatbuilding alive. In pursuing these efforts and in researching the history of boatuilding in Dorchester County and the Eastern Shore, it became increasingly clear that the area has had far-reaching influence on the design of ships and on Chesapeake Bay maritime history.
The Richardson Maritime Museum is presently operating from two locations in Cambridge. The Museum building at 401 High St. contains a vast array of items that illustrate the depth of the maritime heritage of Dorchester County and recognizes Captain Jim and other local boatbuilders. In 2002, the Maryland Avenue waterfront site was acquired, and the Ruark Boatworks was established as a facility to repair and build wooden boats allowing the skills to be passed on to current and future generations. This expansion to a waterfront site solidified the organization’s commitment to the development of a maritime heritage center.
The current effort is to bring all operations to the Maryland Avenue site with the existing brick building being repurposed to function as a museum which will house the collection from 401 High St. and the artifacts and archives acquired from the Brannock Maritime Museum. As the Ruark Boatworks continues the activity of boat repairs and boatbuilding projects, additional funding is being secured to conduct a limited series of courses to prepare individuals for entry level employment in the marine trades.
The marine industry currently has difficulty employing skilled technicians statewide, and is in need of locating trained people. Future plans are to develop a Marine Trade School to promote both historic and traditional craft indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay, as well as contemporary construction and repair of boats and pleasure craft. Its courses will include hull and shape development with composites; machinery, equipment, electrical, electronics, waste and propulsion systems. The school will be a certified facility that will provide a placement service for its graduates.
At the 25-year mark, much has been accomplished with much more on the horizon. Join in a celebratory evening as we acknowledge the immeasurable contributions of many dedicated people in the successful growth of the organization.
Sail-a-bration is slated for Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Three Sixty at the River’s Edge. The evening will include silent and live auctions and entertainment by Three Penny Opera. Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar will be available.
Tickets are $65 per person. For more information, contact Melissa Thomas at 410-221-1871.

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