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Weld Boathouse, one of Harvard’s two crew boathouses, welcomed rowers back to its historic space last week after more than a year of renovations.
The boathouse — home to the Harvard-Radcliffe rowing teams as well as recreational and intramural rowing — has not seen a renovation this large since its construction in 1906.
Renovations, which began in July 2022, were completed by contractor Consigli Construction and architecture firms Bruner/Cott Architects and Peterson Architects. The interior space was renovated to include a new team locker room, coaches’ offices, and training space.
Harvard Athletics spokesperson Darin A. Wong wrote in an emailed statement that “the majority of the funding was from donor philanthropy.”
The exterior renovations include changes to the boathouse’s stucco, windows and doors, and the replacement of the terracotta roof. The project also enhanced the electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. This summer, new docks will be installed to replace the aging wooden planks.
“It’s like someone turned on the sun in here,” said Liz O’Leary, the Harvard-Radcliffe women’s heavyweight crew head coach, pointing to new, clear windows in the newly designated training room.
“They’ve done a spectacular job,” she added. “The space hasn’t changed, but the use is much more functional, much more efficient — and that’s great — but without losing the character.”
Kelly A. Evans ’10, the assistant Harvard-Radcliffe heavyweight crew coach, concurred with O’Leary.
“To see this boathouse restored and set up to provide both a state-of-the-art experience for future generations of Radcliffe women while sort of staying true to the history and tradition of the Radcliffe experience is really cool,” she said.
Still, there were some obstacles to bringing the 22,000 square foot building into the 21st century.
Construction on the boathouse required Harvard to adhere to preservation restrictions due to its listing on the State Register of Historic Places, as well as its location on the Charles River Basin Historic District, which is in the National Register of Historic Places.
The project faced some pushback late last year when the Charles River Watershed Association advocated for public access to the boathouse, citing Chapter 91 of the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act — which states that private constructions on the Charles must “serve a proper public purpose.”
The renovations to Weld Boathouse will be followed by a remodeling of Newell Boathouse, its counterpart across the Charles and home to Harvard men’s crew. During the renovations to Weld, the College’s rowing teams shared Newell, and while Newell is under construction, the teams will share Weld.
Despite the shared space, Weld Boathouse is still “a unique space in that it provides space for women and for women athletes to train to become the best versions of themselves,” Evans said.
“I feel the spirit of Radcliffe here,” said Radcliffe rower Aurelia M.M. Elliott ’26. “I feel the history — the legacy — of our team in this space, which is really empowering.”
“Just look at these walls,” added Meena S. Baher ’26, a freshman Radcliffe rower. “So many women have come before us, inside of this one space, and now we get to create the next chapter of it.”
—Staff writer Jackson C. Sennott can be reached at email@example.com.
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