Noank Shipyard Collection

Manuscripts Collection 353


Overview of the Collection

Repository: G.W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Noank Shipyard (Noank, Conn.)
Title: Noank Shipyard Collection
Dates: 1943-2000
Extent: 169 items
Abstract: Collection, 1943-2000, of the Noank Shipyard in Noank, Connecticut. Includes a variety of manuscript materials and newspaper clippings. The manuscript materials contain information concerning boating safety legislation and taxes, correspondence, bills of sale for vessels purchased by the yard and miscellaneous drawings and notes. The clippings cover topics including Noank and Groton, Connecticut history, the development of the shipyard and its purchase by Donald Singer in 1964, the EMMA C. BERRY, the Noank Historical Society and their work, Tropical Storm Doria, the beaching of a whale in Noank, other miscellaneous boats and topics, zoning disputes over the expansion of the yard and finally its sale.
Identification: Coll. 353
Accesssion number: MC 2009.10

History of the Noank Shipyard

The Noank Shipyard was originally organized by brothers John and Robert Palmer in 1850. Both had previously worked with their father John Palmer various locations around Noank. The new shipyard was officially named “R. & J. Palmer” but was generally referred to by locals as simply the “Palmer yard.” Robert took full control of the company in 1879 after his brother’s death and then brought his own son Robert Jr. into partnership in 1880. The yard was then officially renamed Robert Palmer and Son Shipbuilding and Marine Railway Company. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the shipyard was the largest facility for building and repair of wooden vessels in southern New England, employing over 300 men. The yard specialized in building railroad car floats, schooner barges, and dump scows as well as fishing smacks. Robert Palmer and Son went out of business in 1914 with the passing of the Robert Jr. who was also known in Noank as “Deacon” Palmer because of his close and active connections to the Noank Baptist church. During World War I the yard was reactivated by the Groton Iron Works but fell into general disuse until another resurgence of activity during World War II. After the second world war the yard once again fell into disrepair until Donald Singer purchased it in 1964. Singer turned the old shipyard into a model marina catering to the post war boom in pleasure boating. After a series of zoning disputes Singer sold the Noank shipyard in 1980. Today, under new ownership, the Noank Shipyard is still a very active marina and repair facility and remains, as was the case with it’s predecessors, a focal point of life in the village of Noank.

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Scope and Contents of the Papers

This collection was largely organized based on the types of documents present. Manuscripts and clippings were the basis of the entire collection and so they were divided up by events, chronologically, within each medium.

Series 1: Manuscript Materials. 1964-2000, undated

Series 2: Clippings. 1943-1980, undated

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division.

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.


Singer, Donald

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Emma C. Berry (Schooner)


Groton (Conn.)–History Noank (Conn.)–History


Boating industry–Law and legislation
Natural disasters–Connecticut
Noank Historical Society
Shipbuilding industry–Connecticut–Noank

Document Types:

Bills of sale
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 353, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Manuscript Materials, 1964-2000, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Information concerning boating safety legislation and taxes, 1967 Jan-May, undated (25 items)
2 Correspondence, 1969 Dec-1978 Mar, undated (5 items)
3 Bills of Sale, 1964 Oct-1969 Jan (3 items)
4 Miscellaneous, 1967 Apr-2000, undated (6 items)
Clippings, 1943-1980, undated
Box Folder
1 5 Noank and Groton history, 1943 Feb-1976 Jan, undated (6 items)
6 Development of the shipyard, 1964 Dec-1966 Mar, undated (19 items)
7 EMMA C. BERRY (Schooner), 1966 Jun, undated (4 items)
8 Noank Historical Society, 1966-1974 Jan (4 items)
9 Zoning disputes and sale of the yard, 1966 Oct-1980 Oct (47 items)
10 Tropical Storm Doria, 1971 Aug (2 items)
11 Beaching of a whale, 1976 Jan-Feb, undated (5 items)
12 Noank Historical Society, 1966-1974 Jan (4 items)
13 Miscellaneous boats, 1967 Aug-1979 Dec, undated (13 items)
14 Miscellaneous, 1966 Mar-1978 Apr, undated (30 items)

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