“The Landing” is a short stretch of the Kennebunk River where The Landing School is located. It was once an internationally famous shipbuilding area and the home of more than 20 shipbuilding firms between 1766 and 1867. As the economic effects of the Great Depression descended over the country in the early 20th century, the shipbuilding business throughout Maine began to dwindle. In 1942, The Landing hosted its last official launching of a commercial vessel, a police cruiser. In December of 1978, three and a half decades later, the first class of students at The Landing School launched a Chamberlain dory-skiff, reviving the boat building trade along The Landing.
The Landing School was established in 1978 by John Burgess and Helen Tupper as a nonprofit, post-secondary institution dedicated to providing the highest quality hands-on education in boat building. The first year hosted nine students who used a cow barn as a classroom. They built two dories and two 18-foot sailboats as the curriculum. That program became the Wooden Boat Building Program and was eventually expanded to include both Small Boats and Cruising Boats options.
In 1979, school administrators set out to fill a critical void in the industry where well-trained tradespeople were in high demand. This objective spurred the creation of the Yacht Design Program. This program provided the global marine industry with a source of new designers trained specifically in the techniques and aesthetics of yacht and commercial boat design.
Two decades later, boatyards were struggling with a shortage of trained marine systems technicians. So in September 1999, The Landing School once again responded to the industry’s need by launching the Marine Systems Program. At the same time, The School began a multi-year aggressive growth plan that resulted in a large addition that was completed in 2007. The addition provided room for the curriculum to expand again with the creation of the Composite Boat Building Program.
Today, each of The Landing School’s ten-month-long programs culminates in a diploma for students who successfully complete their courses within the high standards set by the faculty.
In 2009, the State of Maine Department of Education and The School’s accrediting agency, ACCSC, approved The Landing School as a degree-granting institution. A student who successfully completes two technical programs and 15 credit-hours of general education courses is eligible to receive an Associate’s degree.
Education from The Landing School reinforces and preserves traditional design and construction methods while advancing the art of boat building, design and maintenance through the integration of modern techniques and contemporary materials. The marine industry values this unique training and has lauded The Landing School internationally with a reputation for graduates of exceptional quality. The School is considered by many in the marine industry to be unequaled in its education.
The Landing School is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Maine. It is governed by a board of trustees and is managed by an administrative staff.