James Richardson, 84, boat builder, restorer

September 13, 1991

James B. Richardson, 84, a retired Dorchester County boat builder who did restorations and reconstructions of historic structures and boats, died Monday at the Deer's Head Center, a state hospital in Salisbury, after a stroke.

Funeral services were being held today at Cambridge Seventh-day Adventist Church, which he helped to build.

Mr. Richardson lived in Lloyds. After he retired and closed the boatyard at his home on Le Compte Creek, he continued to do projects of his own, such as the bugeye, Jenny Norman, which he completed in 1989. He had operated the boatyard since the 1930s.

He built and repaired work boats and worked on PT boats and otherwooden naval vessels during World War II. Later, he built replicas of Colonial boats, the Dove at St. Mary's City and the Adventurer for the tercentenary celebration at Charleston, S.C.

About the time he retired, his skill at traditional wooden boat-building brought him a land-based commission near his home: reconstructing the Spocott Windmill, on the farm of former Sen. George L. Radcliffe, who died in 1974.

A native of Cambridge who was educated in public schools, Mr. Richardson received an honorary doctorate in 1978 from Salisbury State University for his work in preserving the culture of the Eastern Shore.

The Spocott Windmill, with wooden gears and canvas sails with a two-story housing mounted on a 24-inch post, posed a special problem. It was built in 1850 and blown down in an 1888 blizzard, and there were no books, models or experts to tell how it was done.

"What we had to do was construct our mill by trial and error," Mr. Richardson said in an interview.

His wife of nearly 56 years, the former Generva Jones, died in June.

Survivors include two daughters, Jane Brighton and Judith Howell, both of Lloyds; a foster-daughter, Anne F. Carney of College Park; two sisters, Dorothy R. Fuchs and Sarah R. Hyatt, and a brother, William A. Richardson, all of Lloyds; and four grandchildren.

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