Washington Canoe Club – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura

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Washington Canoe Club

This historic boathouse was constructed using salvaged lumber from burned barns. 


Founded in 1904, the Washington Canoe Club began building the boathouse that still serves as their home over 115 years later. Under the guidance of architect Georges P. Hales, members of the club which was initially limited to 100 members, built the boathouse using recovered materials.

By 1930, the boathouse was expanded to the east to a total size of approximately 11,000 square feet, and in 1970, a landfill in front of the boathouse was capped with concrete, creating the deck that still exists in front of the building.

Time and the elements have taken a toll on the boathouse, and the National Park Service (NPS) deemed the older part of the boathouse unsafe in 2011. The NPS installed structural supports to prevent further damage, but there is an ongoing rehabilitation effort to fully restore the historic boathouse.

Among members of the club are Olympic competitors and even medalists. Washington Canoe Club’s team in 1924 teamed with Canadians to introduce canoeing as a demonstration event at the Paris Olympics. Frank Havens won silver in 1948 and gold in 1952. Francine Fox and Gloriane Perrier took home a silver medal In 1964. Norman Bellingham scored gold in 1988. Olympic hopefuls and former Olympians still train at the club.

Know Before You Go

The club is located along the Capital Crescent Trail near the eastern side of the Key Bridge.

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October 26, 2021

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