Frost - Lowell Boatbuilding History

More Than 100 Years of Boats

Frost newspaper ad 1951
Newspaper ad, June 1, 1951

The Lowell Brothers, Jamie and Joe, invite you to Even Keel Marine, where they carry on a boatbuilding heritage that spans more than 100 years and six generations. The Lowell brothers continue the family tradition of creating masterfully designed and built lobster-style hulls for both pleasure and commercial uses.

Carroll Lowell established Even Keel Marine in 1961 on the Cousins River, Yarmouth, Maine. In this small shop Carroll taught his sons to design and build in the methods taught him by his father, Riley Lowell, and his grandfather, Will "Pappy" Frost.

Will frost with boat in shop
Will Frost, 1952

WILL FROST HISTORY

William "Pappy" Frost, a.k.a. "Wizard of Beals," is generally regarded as the primary forefather of the Maine lobster-style boat.

Frost (c. 1874-1967) spent his childhood in Whale Cove, Nova Scotia, near Digby. He probably learned boatbuilding at a young age from his father and his grandfathers, who are all believed to have been mariners and boatbuilders.

And Frost was growing up at a critical time, when the fishing world was moving from sailpower to motorpower. Young Frost eagerly plunged into this design challenge, creating boats that would best fit the capabilities - and drawbacks - of motorpower.

The results are sleek, smooth-gliding hulls that slice gently through the water with minimum resistance and maximum speed. Even Frost's earliest boats won races all around Nova Scotia - including one race when Queen Victoria was in the audience. As writer Paul Lazarus stated in a 1989 National Fisherman article: "Moderately lightweight, high-compression power plants were not available until late in Frost's boatbuilding and designing career. So he paid close attention to improving the efficiency of the underwater, or wetted, surfaces of his hulls."

Around 1912, Will Frost moved his family to Beal's Island, ME. There he continued his illustrious boatbuilding career - his boats are said to have about doubled the speed of any boat in the area. (He is also said to have built anywhere from 700 to 1,000 boats in the course of his life.)

Numerous local builders worked in his shop over the 20 years that he lived on Beal's Island. His design features were rapidly incorporated into the area's boatbuilding culture, crystallizing into the style known as the "Jonesporter" or "Beal's Islander." Paul Lazarus stated in the same article: "Jonesporters...were an outstanding hull form that Frost was highly influential in developing...seaworthy, fast, & exceptionally good-looking vessels..."

Click here to see MERGANSER, one of Will Frost's most famous boats.

RILEY LOWELL HISTORY

One local man of boatbuilding and maritime heritage, Riley Lowell, became part of the family. He married Will's oldest daughter Wilhelmina, and built side by side with Frost for the rest of their lives, including when Frost set up shop in Massachusetts (during the depression), Rhode Island, and then Portland, ME.

Riley Lowell
Riley Lowell
Carroll Lowell
Carroll Lowell
Royal Lowell
Royal Lowell

 

CARROLL, DANIEL, & ROYAL LOWELL HISTORY

In turn, Riley passed on the boatbuilding bug to his five sons: Carroll, Royal, Danny, Donnie, and Malcolm. These five brothers grew up in Will Frost's shop, and they carried on Frost's design styles and secrets, making the name "Lowell" synonymous with quality design and workmanship.

Carroll reminisced about his youth in a 1986 article in Wooden Boat magazine: "My grandfather would cut a model; the rest of the crew would be working, and he'd have it out there and take the drawshave to it, and he would say to me, 'Now hold it!' So I would bear down, and he would cut away on it, and hold it up, and maybe leave it and come back the next day. You couldn't help but learn from watching him. In the old days, a man would have someone hold something for him; this is how we learned...For instance, I was on the loft floor when I was a kid - watching 'em. Sometimes I didn't understand, but after a while it would come to me."

In particular, Royal, Carroll, and Danny worked together in the boat industry. In 1961, Carroll opened Even Keel Marine Specialties, Inc. in Yarmouth, where he and Danny and Royal would build many of the boats that Royal and Carroll designed.

Even Keel - 1960's
Even Keel Marine, soon after it was built by Carroll Lowell

JAMIE & JOSEPH LOWELL

Today, Carroll's sons continue the family traditions of excellence and innovation in boatbuilding. Like their father and their uncles, they also grew up in their father's shop -
they can even show you the table saw where their diapers were changed.

The Frost-Lowell legacy indeed continues in the current Lowell Brothers, and they are still carrying out its ideals (perhaps even genius?) at Even Keel Marine in Yarmouth. Drop by their shop sometime - hear some tales of old times, ideas for new times, and a whole lot of "boat talk!"

young Jamie Lowell
Young Jamie Lowell
young Joseph Lowell
Young Joseph Lowell