New Community Boathouse Named After Harvard Coach

On October 16, Community Rowing, Inc. will dedicate a new boathouse, named after Harvard men’s heavyweight crew head coach Harry L. Parker, on the Charles River.

The eco-friendly facility, located in Brighton, will aim to provide access to the Charles for rowers of all ages and abilities.

An accomplished athlete and coach, Parker said that he initially felt uneasy about having a building named after him.

“I don’t know if you’ve paid attention to what names get put on buildings,” he said. “It’s usually people who have given a lot of money for the construction or major political figures after they’re deceased—I’m neither.”

Parker has been an integral part of CRI since its creation in 1985. He currently serves as a trustee and has been working on a committee to raise funds for the boathouse.

In the past week, private donors have contributed $1.1 million towards the $15.6 million facility, bringing the current total donated to $14.6 million, according to CRI Executive Director Bruce H. Smith.

Prior to the project, CRI did not have any significant donor base and little history of fundraising, according to Parker.

“I was privately very skeptical at first,” he said. “I thought, ‘My goodness, how will they raise that money?’”

Harvard has played an active role in

helping the CRI project to get off the ground, Parker said. CRI was initially based at the Weld Boathouse and used University equipment.

Furthermore, Harvard alumni have played a prominent role in contributing to the upgraded boathouse, according to Smith.

Some programs have already been running out of the new Harry Parker Boathouse, and these trial runs have been successful, said Smith. Now people have closer access to the river, and CRI is able to expand its programs.

Both Parker and Smith said they hoped the new boathouse would not increase the amount of boat traffic on the river. Smith said that CRI has worked closely with the surrounding community and has created a schedule that it hopes will be unintrusive.

The head coach of the Harvard women’s heavyweight crew team, Liz O’Leary, said that “everybody is courteous and respectful and follows the traffic patterns,” and everything runs smoothly “as long as there’s good communication among people who are using the river.”

Smith said that the CRI hopes that rowing will have a new place amongst residents of the Boston area and that the new building “will make public access to the river a permanent feature.”