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toPsidE By JEN ZEttEL


A Maritime


Legacy Peterson Builders and The Avenger Class


A


itting in the room of his home dedicated to Peterson Builders’ history, Ellsworth Peterson can point to any of the relics from his career with the company and


tell a story. T e work permit he obtained to help


his father in the shipyard hangs in a frame on the wall. His hard hat rests on a shelf next to his father’s. His desk from Peterson Builders sits against a wall, re- fi nished and shining. Photos of launch- ings, ships and of the Peterson family fi ll the walls.


46 Door County Living Winter 2011/2012 At 17 years old, he delivered his fi rst


ship to Mississippi, traveling with the crew through the Great Lakes, out the St. Lawrence Seaway and down the East Coast; and now, at 87 years old, he refl ects on the life of the company his father started – the company he took over and eventually closed following the fulfi llment of one last contract in the 1990s.


Shipyard of Choice Ellsworth Peterson’s father Fred J.


Peterson started Peterson Boatworks in 1933. Continuing the shipbuilding


tradition his father Martin had started, Fred built a reputation as the man to buy a reliable wooden ship from. In 1946, Fred renamed the company Pe- terson Builders, Inc. (PBI) and started seeking naval contracts aggressively.


After World War II, his company


caught the eye of the United States Navy. T e Navy awarded minesweeper con- struction contracts to Peterson Builders because of its combination of political prowess and quality shipbuilding.


“Ellsworth Peterson was good at un- derstanding the procurement politics in


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