Presque Isle - Erie Shipyard
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Presque Isle - Erie Shipyard

In response to Great Britain's successful advances, President James Madison ordered the construction of a U.S. naval fleet to regain control of the strategically located Lake Erie.
Daniel Dobbins, a Great Lakes ship master living in Erie, was assigned by the Navy to begin building until more experienced engineers arrived. Commander of the U.S. Navy on the Great Lakes, Commodore Isaac Chauncey, soon assigned Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry to take charge of the operation in the Spring of 1813.

Construction of Perry's fleet was mostly conducted by hand in Erie, a remote hamlet of five hundred inhabitants. Sawmills were non-existent in the area, which meant long and tedious efforts of hand-cutting lumber. Much of Perry's experienced trade help, including boat builders, shipwrights, and laborers were mostly brought in from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Iron, sail canvas, rigging and cannon shot also had to be imported from regions of Pennsylvania.

In February 1813, Commander Chauncey hired Noah Brown, a New York shipbuilder, to complete the work. Brown also designed two of four schooners and two brigs, Lawrence and Niagara.