After selling his business, South Shore Wholesale Tire, Joseph G. Lannan, Jr. (1926-2011), a former merchant mariner and graduate of Mass Maritime Academy, began selling model boats and nautical antiques in the basement of the home he shared with his wife Kathie and two sons, Joe and Larry.
Larry and Joe worked with their dad fixing model boats, interacting with clients and polishing brass. Growing up around model boats, Joe and Larry learned a lot about antiques and the history of yachting while working for their dad and soon developed strong entrepreneurial skills and a steadfast and dedicated work ethic.
Joe Lannan took his two sons on buying trips to antique markets and frequented maritime museums where their knowledge of the market and it’s merchants grew; cementing the roots of the maritime business within the family.
And the Lannan maritime roots run deep!
Migrating from Ireland, mariner George Lannan (c. 1809-1889) settled in Prince Edward Island Canada where he and his wife Ellen (c. 1819- 1884) had three children.
The only boy, Joseph Lannan (b. 1834-1881) also a mariner by trade, married Matilda McDonald (b.1839-1920) and began a family in 1860, eventually raising 5 boys between Charlottetown, PEI and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Around 1875, three generations of Lannans settled in South Boston, Massachusetts. The third boy born of Joseph and Matilda, Joseph Alexander Lannan (b. 1865-1920), became a famous heavy weight fighter who toured with and was the choice sparring partner of John L. Sullivan. Migrating from Ireland, mariner George Lannan (c. 1809-1889) settled in Prince Edward Island Canada where he and his wife Ellen (c. 1819- 1884) had three children. In addition to Sullivan, “Irish Joe” fought many other great heavyweights in the States such as Jim Corbett, Jake Kilrain, Patsy Cardiff and was one of the few brave enough to go up against George Godfrey, a black fighter from his hometown of Charlottetown. In the late 1890s, Joe moved to the seaside resort town of Hull, Massachusetts where he was the proprietor of many hotels and resorts on Nantasket Beach. The hotels were furnished with their own model boats that were also sold in the gift shoppes. It was in Nantasket where he and his wife, Margaret Mooney (1866-1947), had three children, the only boy being Joseph Gilbert Lannan, Sr. (1898-2000).
Joseph Lannan Sr. married Janet Sieberg, daughter of Jacob Sieberg (Jēkabs Zībergs (1889-1963), “Father of American Letts”. Joseph Sr. and Janet settled in Milton, Massachusetts after Joseph G. Lannan, Jr. (first owner of the Lannan Ship Model Gallery) was born in 1926.
Joe left the shop having purchased nothing from Sam Lowe and instead found famous model builder Peter Ness of East Boston who now has models in the Smithsonian. Joe bought models from Peter Ness and others and proved himself a collector without the help of Sam Lowe and eventually decided that he’d like to try and see if he could make a living selling marine art and ship models, thus Lannan Ship Models was born.
In 1977, after many years of hauling and selling models for their father, Larry and his brother Joe were the primary overseers, maintaining the business while working at the Chart House Restaurant in Boston. During this time the Lannan brothers opened a pie stand in the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, the largest tourist attraction in New England. While the brothers together partnered both businesses, they eventually made a decision to split and each take one of the businesses to run separately.
Joe took the pie business and Larry took the nautical antiques and model boat business, first selling out of his homes in Dedham & Westwood and eventually out of a loft space on Thayer St. in Boston’s South End. Since then, Larry Lannan has been the sole-proprietor of Lannan Ship Model Gallery. In 1992 Larry opened his second shop, a 6,000 square foot store in the Russia Wharf building on the corner of Congress St. at 540 Atlantic Avenue in the Financial/Waterfront district of Boston, now called “Atlantic Wharf”. The former Gallery space has been converted to the great Jody Adams' restaurant TRADE. After over 10 years, a development project re-located the gallery across the street to the 99 High St. office tower were the gallery thrived for another 12 years.
In February 2017, the Lannan Gallery relocated to the south shore of Boston in the town of Norwell. The new store is part of the historic the Jacob Collamore Homestead and the antiques and nautical merchandise, for those who remember, has the salty flavor of the Atlantic Avenue store.
The Gallery is open from 11-4 Monday-Saturday and will take appointments, with intent, during other hours and on Sunday.
New location open now: 483 Washington St., Norwell, MA
The Lannan Ship Model Gallery conducts auctions under the name Boston Harbor Auctions several times a year
written by Susan Donnelly
updated April 20, 2017 3:59pm