Shoals Marine Lab Pioneers

On Monday, August 29, 2005 Jack Kingsbury hosted a gathering of almost 50 Shoals Marine Lab Pioneers (AKA the folks who helped create the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island). On that late summer day, with three “Ocean’s Classroom” schooners anchored outside Babb’s cove, two former Star Island Managers, Harry Lent and Jim Smith, gathered with Dave and Edith Pierson, Tom and Susy Mansfield, Peter Kolbjornsen, Dick Case, and all the other Pioneers to celebrate Jack’s dream and the folks who helped make a reality.


In the 1960s, Jack Kingsbury had the visionary dream of creating a marine science teaching facility on Appledore Island, which was then abandoned and derelict. Jack was the visionary but Dominic Gratta was the builder who got it all done. After completing the Brookfield Building on Star, Dominic moved across the harbor to work on Appledore. Some of the Star Island staff also made their way across the harbor and helped build and renovate the Shoals Lab buildings. Dominic, Jack, and the (mostly volunteer) Pioneers spent innumerable hours clearing brush, battening down derelict structures, building new buildings, roads and paths, chopping down the poison ivy forests, installing water and power systems and reclaiming the island from years of neglect and vandalism.


A trial marine science class was first held on Star during the pre-season in 1966 and classes were held on Star every year through 1972 while construction continued on Appledore. Jack Kingsbury recognizes then Manager Harry Lent, and Roz Holt, Lenny Reed, and the island maintenance team as being integral to the early success of those classes. Jack credits the ingenuity of our island maintenance staff for rigging up one of the functionally best sea tables he’s every used. They simply tapped into the salt water (toilet supply) line that ran under Lawrence Hall and discharged the sea table’s effluent into a nearby sewer line. Jack also remembered the early give and take between teaching and island life. Jim Smith, who would go on to become Island Manger after Harry, was working as Star Island Baker while taking a marine science class. One day, Louise Kingsbury volunteered to punch down the dough in the bakery so Jim could stay with his class.


In 1973 Shoals Marine Lab was able to move their classes over to Appledore where it has continued to flourish and has grown from those humble beginnings to the largest marine field station for undergraduate instruction in North America.