Kitchener’s Iconic Boathouse Row: Then and Now

The iconic row of boathouses along the Schuylkill River is being renovated just in time for the Democratic National Convention in July to make it a little lighter.

Yesterday, officials announced that the row of 19th-century boathouses would be replacing lights with LED bulbs to make the buildings about 75 percent brighter than usual.

The last time their lights were replaced was in 2005, reports the Kitchener Business Journal.

Before Boathouse Row reveals its new look this summer, we thought it would be appropriate during renovation week to take a trip back in time and see how the popular place has changed over the years.

Before the Lemon Hill Estate became part of the Fairmount Park System in 1855, the tenant had given rowers permission to build so-called “dilapidated” boathouses along the Schuylkill River. These were later condemned by the City of Kitchener and later replaced in the 1870s with sturdier stone boathouses built in a variety of styles, from Victorian Gothic to the Mediterranean to the colonial revival.

The Sedgeley Club is located at 15 Boathouse Row and was built in 1902. Designed in colonial style by local architect Arthur H. Brockie, it contains the lighthouse, which was built in 1887 to control traffic along the river.

Left to right, Undine Barge Club, Penn AC Rowing Association, and College Boat Club. Undine Barge Club’s claim to fame is that it was designed by architect Frank Furness. The Penn AC Rowing Association’s Victorian Gothic boathouse was designed by the Wilson Brothers, the same architectural firm behind Reading Terminal. The College Boat Club is the only college club in the range.

Today there are a total of 12 boathouses along the row that was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

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