110 Chittenden Ln, Norwell, MA 02061, USA
Owned By: Town of Norwell
This Norwell Town Landing was the 1871 launch site of the schooner Helen M. Foster, the last ship built on the North River. A shipyard was located here as early as 1690. The saw pit is still visible. A plaque marks the site.
The property also includes a fishing dock and canoe/kayak launch.
Tide Math: High tide at the Chittenden Yard is about 90 minutes after the Boston high tide.
The Chittenden Shipyard was active from 1690 to 1871, with a number of different shipwrights at work over the years. There was an active town landing at this site until 1799. The landing site fell into disuse for a time, however in 2018 the Town of Norwell made vast improvements, including a fishing dock. Today it’s a lovely spot!
Job Randall was probably the first shipwright to work at this site (1690). He built several ships, including the brigantine Hopewell (40 tons, 1694), the sloop Dubartus (25 tons, 1694), the ship Hannah (70 tons, 1699) and several more. Randall’s last ship on record is the brigantine Adventure (60 tons) in 1705. Next Edward and Isaac Prouty worked here, but there are no records of the ships they built. The Chittenden Family was next, beginning around 1709. Isaac Chittenden built the sloop Seaflower (30 tons), and later another sloop named Seaflower (40 tons, 1714). His nephew Nathaniel Chittenden likely succeeded him here. Next were the Merritts. They built the schooner Bachelor (44 tons, 1786), the schooner Sally (32 tons, 1789), the ship Merchant (179 tons, 1794), and several other schooners. George Torrey built the brigantine Betsey (111 tons) here in 1794, and then two years later, a 95 ton schooner by the same name. Other Torrey-built schooners, ships, and brigantines followed. Joseph Nash built ships here around the same time. The final vessel built here by the Torrey family was the New Sally a 56 ton schooner, in 1812. The Torreys then moved on to the Block House Yard, downstream.
Other shipwrights active at this yard included Joseph Pratt, Charles Cole, Laban Souther, and Elijah Cudworth. According to Briggs’ “History of Shipbuilding on North River,” “In our researches into the business of ship-building on the North River, we find that no man stood higher, or has left a better record of honesty and industry, than Elijah Cudworth.”
Souther & Cudworth built the schooner Pharamond (84 tons, 1818) at Chittenden Yard, and then the Seventh Son (87 tons, 1819) and the Three Sisters (1820). Numerous other schooners, brigantines and other vessels followed from 1822 to 1840. Especially of note was the 232 ton brigantine Josephine (1833) which went ashore about halfway between Humarock and the river mouth and was nearly wrecked . . . but ultimately sailed safely to sea. Souther & Cudworth’s bark Nashua was even larger (301 tons, 1833). Elijah Cudworth brought his sons into the shipbuilding firm after Laban Souther’s death, but by then lumber was growing scarce. Still, they built a few ships prior to 1860.
The final builders at Chittenden Yard were the Merritt family. Henry Merritt built the schooner Sarah Jane (67 tons) in 1851. Joseph Merritt built the schooners Forest Bell (44 tons) and Forest Oak (62 tons) in 1862. The final ship built not only at Chittenden Yard, but on the entire North River, was the Helen M. Foster, a 90-ton oak schooner (1871), by Joseph Merritt. The launch of this vessel was a major event, drawing a large crowd.
Habitats and Wildlife
Chittenden Yard is located on the North River, just upstream of the mouth of Second Herring Brook.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: Yes
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking for Norwell residents with green Norwell recycling sticker.
Cost: Free with sticker.
Trail Difficulty: No trails.
Boat Ramp: No
Scenic Views: Yes