Weld Boathouse

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Weld Boathouse with Harvard University buildings visible in the background and the partially frozen Charles River in the foreground

Weld Boathouse is a Harvard-owned building on the bank of the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is named after George Walker Weld, who bequeathed the funds for its construction.


Weld boathouse is actually the second of two boathouses created on this spot by George Walker Weld. The first was built in 1889. The second, grander structure was built in 1906 with funds that Weld bequeathed for that purpose. It is this famous Cambridge landmark, perhaps best viewed from Boston looking across the Charles, whose centennial was celebrated in 2006.[1]

Situated at the halfway point of the Head of the Charles course, the Weld Boathouse is just a short walk from Harvard Yard and serves as an integral part of Harvard's athletic landscape. It is also a favored subject of painters and photographers.

The structure serves as a base for Harvard's rowing, boating and crew teams. On occasion, it has been the home of more esoteric pursuits such as the hand-carving of a traditional baidarka of the type used by Aleutian hunters.[2]

Although previously used for Harvard men's freshmen team, Weld Boathouse is currently the home of both the heavyweight and lightweight squads of Radcliffe Women's Crew (representing Harvard University). Additionally, Weld Boathouse is home to the recreational sculling facilities provided by Harvard University, and the House Crews of Harvard College's twelve residential colleges. (Harvard men's rowing runs out of Newell Boathouse on the other side of the river.) Graduate rowing programs also row out of Weld.

1981 fire

In February 1981, spontaneous combustion of flammable materials stored in the woodshop of Weld Boathouse sparked a blaze a that shot flames 30 feet in the air and damaged windows and supplies stored in the ground-level room. A witness reported "It looked like the whole place was going to burn down." [3]

An unidentified man ran into the boathouse shouting, "Fire! Fire! Get out of the building!", thus alerting six members of the women's heavyweight crew who were inside. No one was injured.[3]

An asbestos door triggered by the fire alarm system closed and prevented flames from spreading into the adjacent room where about 100 boats were stored. Firefighters arrived within twenty minutes and quickly doused the flames. The Weld Boathouse, which is mostly brick, suffered little serious damage. [3]

Anderson Memorial Bridge

Next to the boathouse is the Anderson Memorial Bridge built in 1913 by Weld's niece Isabel Weld Perkins and her husband Larz Anderson. This bridge was designed with "a high enough arch to admit the passage of all sorts of pleasure craft." Both the Weld Boathouse and the Anderson Memorial Bridge were funded by heirs to the fortune of 19th century magnate William Fletcher Weld.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lambert, C.A., "The Welds of Harvard Yard""
  2. Building a Baidarka at Weld Boathouse
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Blaze Burns Weld Boathouse


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