Boathouse Row is a historic site located in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, just north of the Fairmount Water Works and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It consists of a row of 15 boathouses housing social and rowing clubs and their racing shells. Each of the boathouses has its own history, and all have addresses on both Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive — named after famous Philadelphian and four-time Olympic oarsman John B. Kelly Jr. Interestingly enough, he wa was also the father to Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. (Thanks to Mad TV, I can’t help thinking of this hilarious skit that most women can probably relate to. You’re welcome.😂)
Boathouses #2 through #14 are part of a group known as the Schuylkill Navy, which encompasses several other boathouses along the river. Boathouse #1 is Lloyd Hall and is the only public boathouse facility on the Row. Boathouse #15 houses the Sedgeley Club, which operates the Turtle Rock Lighthouse. The boathouses are all at least a century old, and some were built more than 150 years ago.
Boathouse Row hosts several major rowing regattas each year:
- Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta
- Stotesbury Cup Regatta
- Navy Day Regatta
- Independence Day Regatta
- Head of the Schuylkill
The boathouses are seen as centers of the rowing community around the United States. Rowers from the boathouses compete at every level, including local clubs, high schools, colleges, summer racing programs, and international-level athletics.
Local universities — including Drexel, Penn, and La Salle — row out of houses on Boathouse Row. Temple and Saint Joseph’s row out of other boathouses along the Schuylkill that are not part of the Row, however.
In 1979 lights designed by architectural lighting designer Ray Grenald were installed to outline each of the boathouses, giving them a nightly Christmas-like gingerbread house appearance and reflecting in the Schuylkill River. He proposed the lights after hearing talk of destroying the decaying Victorian boathouses. Lights on the buildings at night would serve to make them more noticed and appreciated. In 2005, after two refurbishings, the houses were outfitted with computerized LEDs that can light up in various colors, depending on the event or season.
Check out upcoming events at Boathouse Row!