The History of a Boathouse

Putting the Shell in the water at the New Morgantown Boathouse

In 1975 Willem Van Eck was successful in obtaining support from the Morgantown community for the nascent Monongahela Rowing Club and in particular for the WVU Student Crew. General Woodworking located in Westover, just across the river from Stansbury Hall, was one of those business that was essential by providing a place at the edge of their lumberyard where the crew could establish a temporary storage location and then the docks.

The docks required a lengthy process of approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, that lasted more than one year, including 2 public hearings. For a long time afterwards the rowing equipment was stored in old tractor trailers. At one point an old barn that served as storage burned down and MRA lost a considerable amount of equipment. But that early bunch persevered. Appeals were made to local government for support, but it would be years before ground would be broken.

In 1990 then President Kim Stearms, a Morgantown Physician,  found herself heading a fund-raising campaign for the construction of a new boathouse. The boathouse in Westover finally started taking shape in 1991 and was mostly constructed by the end of 1992. Eventually changes in the Business Landscape of Morgantown led General Woodworking to close, the property sold and MRA losing its home because it had never secured ownership to the ground in which the boathouse was located. The boathouse is now only a memory left in the minds of some of us and in the following images that detail the concept through construction of what amounted to a monumental community effort at the time.

John M. Duarte, 2013

1977 request to city for boathouse1 – 1990 mra boathouse project1 –

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3 thoughts on “The History of a Boathouse

  1. I spent many a happy day moving boats in and out of those old tractor trailers to row off the banks of General Wordworking.

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