BLUE DUCK

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The Blue Duck

Built in 1852 by the local Hadlock family as a ship's store, by the early 2000's the Blue Duck building had seen better times. 

 

Named for a painted duck decoy long mounted on the building's north gable, the Blue Duck was used mostly for storage during Brendan's childhood and was donated to the National Park Service in 1948. He'd occasionally climb through an unlocked window with a former boss, an island builder named Courtney Chaplin, to check out the Blue Duck's interiors and think about how massively underused the space was. 

 

So when the opportunity came to lead the renovation of the Blue Duck in 2018, Brendan couldn't resist. Around 2016 the island community started lobbying the Park Service to issue a request for proposals from groups interested in leasing and restoring the building. Islesford Boatworks submitted and became stewards of the space in 2018.

Our goal in working with the Park Service was to return the Blue Duck to its original floor plan and purpose as a chandlery, or ship's store. Shown here before restoration, at 160+ years old, with windows and doors that had been boarded up for decades.

 

We demolished a 20th century apartment, removing interior walls and a bathroom.

On-site work was led by architect Hunter Hughes - who as a kid was a student with Islesford Boatworks - along with the skills and labor of some of our long-time boatbuilders. The tongue and groove pine cladding from the interior walls was reused to line the stairway and build out a utility closet upstairs.

 

The space after restoration. We reinforced the second story with a new pair of beams sourced from local spruce and milled on the island with an Alaskan chainsaw mill. 

 

New built-in pine workbenches for the boat-building program were designed in response to the original ship's store cabinetry (which you see a bit of here, in green, far left).

The doors from the demolished apartment were reused upstairs to create workbenches and cabinets. We designed our Beam Pendant, shown here, while the renovation of the Blue Duck was underway. Our take on the classic typology of shop lamps, Beam also draws references from classic boat forms, so it’s naturally at home in this historic building now being used as a wooden boat building shop.

A sink from the old apartment was repurposed as a shop sink, shown here looking out to the harbor with one of our Ada Sconces.

 

Today, Islesford Boatworks runs year-round programming in the Blue Duck, from summer boat building to winter master classes, morning community coffee sessions, Friday afternoon Boards & Chords jam sessions, and more, under the leadership of our executive director Anthony Archino.

 

Drawings from an Historic American Buildings Survey completed sometime after 1933 show the island (left) and the Blue Duck's location on the Islesford waterfront (right). via Library of Congress

Our goal in working with the Park Service was to return the Blue Duck to its original floor plan and purpose as a chandlery, or ship's store. Shown here before restoration, at 160+ years old, with windows and doors that had been boarded up for decades.

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