A redevelopment project by boatbuilding and marine services firm Lyman-Morse takes shape on Camden Harbor. It is slated to be completed later this spring and will feature two new restaurants and other mixed-used spaces. Credit: Lauren Abbate / BDN

A 33,000-square-foot redevelopment project nearing completion on Camden Harbor will bring two new restaurants to the waterfront this summer in addition to improved facilities for the boatbuilding firm that owns the property.

Thomaston-based Lyman-Morse, which operates a boatyard and marina in Camden, has been working to rebuild its waterfront facility after a 2020 fire caused extensive smoke damage to the series of interconnected buildings that housed its operations, a restaurant and a distillery.

The rebuild project is on track to be completed by late May or early June.

“There is a real energy there in the summertime, but even in the wintertime, with the yachts tied up outside, the crews coming and going, work being done on these pretty amazing vessels. It’s a really fun place to be and everyone is really responding to that,” Lyman-Morse Special Projects Director Joshua Moore said. “We as boat people always knew that’s what it was like, but it’s really fun to let a little bit more of the public in to experience that.”

During construction, Lyman-Morse has been able to keep its marine services operations going at the Camden site by utilizing a large building that wasn’t damaged in the fire, as well as temporary office and shop spaces that were set up outside of the construction area, but still on the property.

The new facility will feature spaces for the company’s rigging, carpentry, electronic, mechanic and canvas shops, as well as offices for project managers. It will also include an improved lounge for the transient boaters that utilize the marina’s docks and moorings.

While Lyman-Morse did not plan to rebuild the Camden facility, which it has owned since 2015, prior to the fire, Moore said it has ended up allowing the company to upgrade the space and make it more efficient from a workflow perspective.

“A lot of the facilities had done quite a lot, many years of service and had done well, but they needed upgrading,” Moore said.

With an improved boardwalk and two new restaurants, the facility will also offer non-boating related space for both marina users and the public to come enjoy a side of the harbor opposite from Camden’s picturesque downtown.

A rendering of the Lyman-Morse redevelopment currently in progress on Camden Harbor. Credit: Courtesy of Lyman-Morse

Jeremy Howard and Andrew Stewart, the local men behind Blue Barren Distillery, will be back at the waterfront site in May with a new endeavor, Barren’s Restaurant.

The distillery opened at the Lyman-Morse site in 2019, but after the 2020 fire, the operations were moved to a blueberry farm in Hope that is owned and operated by Howard’s family.  

The distillery itself will continue to be housed in Hope. But the new restaurant will give Stewart and Howard a place to showcase their growing line of locally made spirits, as well as blueberry products from Howard’s family farm.

While Howard’s roots are in blueberry farming, Stewart previously operated the Drouthy Bear in Camden, which closed during the pandemic.

Barren’s Restaurant will offer comforting pub-style fare, with higher end seafood options as well, Howard said. The 100-seat restaurant will feature a large indoor-outdoor bar as well as a courtyard.

“We want it to be that really welcoming, comfortable place to come in for a drink and a burger,” Howard said.

Blue Barren Distillery will also have a storefront at the Lyman-Morse facility where people can purchase spirits and other goods like candles and soaps, Howard said.

A second restaurant, Salt Wharf, is slated to open on the property, likely in June, according to Moore. The restaurant will be seafood-forward with a raw bar and a rooftop bar “that’s really going to blow some people away, it’s a pretty spectacular location,” Moore said.

The new facility also boasts several commercial or retail spaces that Lyman-Morse envisions local craftspeople operating as a showroom for their wares or a gallery space.

The redevelopment project stands out on the harbor as a modern-built facility, but Moore said the company has worked to incorporate design elements that serve as a nod to the history of building styles that have been in the area. This includes having each of the building spaces designed with their own architectural style as opposed to one long building, as well as the use of gable-style pitched roofs facing the water.

“Is it a change? Yes absolutely. But I think it’s going to be a positive change and something that really contributes to Camden as the special harbor that it really is,” Moore said.

Outside of the boatyard redevelopment, Lyman-Morse is also looking to develop a marina in Camden’s outer harbor. The proposal is still in the planning stages, Moore said.