Built around 1800, 1706 Lancaster Street was home to Thomas Kemp, a 24-year-old shipbuilder from St. Michaels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, from 1803 to 1805 on the eve of the War of 1812. During the war, many regarded Kemp as the most skilled builder of privateer schooners. The Rossie, Comet, and Chasseur schooners seized an astounding 80 prizes—Rossie under Joshua Barney’s command, the other two under the celebrated Captain Tom Boyle. Like other shipbuilders, Kemp also repaired, altered, and outfitted vessels, sometimes investing in the ships that came out of his yard.
Kemp’s Fountain Street shipyard, several blocks to the north, also produced two sloops of war for the U.S. Navy—Ontario and Erie. His payroll during construction in 1813 reached $1,000 a week, which was quite a sum considering that even skilled workmen earned only $3 a day.