History

The 1906 Championship

Riverside Boat Club 150th Anniversary History Series

By Dick Garver

Riverside Boat Club was one of the most prominent racing clubs in the country in the first decade of the 20th Century, a stature that was confirmed by its senior eight winning the national championship in 1906.  It was a victory embroiled in controversy, however, involving—can you believe it—men’s sweep oars’ drinking. The story is told in the newest edition of the club’s 150th Anniversary History series.

In 1900, Riverside Boat Club’s eight, averaging 145 pounds, won the New England Amateur Rowing Association championship.  The Boston Globe’s long-time rowing reporter and NEARA figure Eugene Buckley proclaimed it “the first racing club in America.”  In 1902, he stated that, “Never in the history of rowing was there greater activity shown in turning out racing crews than is the case at present (at Riverside)”.  Seat selection for its intermediate and senior sweep boats was more competitive than ever. Riverside’s 1903 senior eight, coached by George Faulkner and again New England champion, was considered the best the club had put on the water to-date.  Reflecting the club’s prominence, in 1906 St. Josephs Boat Club’s highly regarded senior four made news by going over to Riverside as a group. Riverside’s ascendancy was confirmed in Worcester on August 11, 1906 when its senior eight claimed the national championship.  

It was a claim that was not without controversy, however.  Riverside and New York Athletic Club rowed to a dead heat in the championship race.  After an interval, the National Association of Amateur Oarsman announced that the race would be re-rowed, even though it was after sunset.    Riverside appeared to win. In the race’s aftermath, a disgruntled NYAC filled charges with the NAAO claiming that Riverside had replaced oarsmen who had been drinking prior to the decision to re-row the race with fresh rowers. The NAAO established a formal investigation.  At its hearing in Boston on March 9, 1907, NYAC’s representative claimed that canoers who had been at the finish line as Riverside prepared to row up to the start of the row-over had asked how the boat would do given the intoxicated condition of one of its members. In a sworn statement they reported that someone in the crew answered, “Don’t worry about us, for we have three fresh men in the boat.”  Once NYAC’s case was concluded, Riverside’s witnesses were sworn, beginning with George Faulkner, who recounted scurrying around in an automobile to reassemble the boat after the decision was announced to re-row the race. He testified that he was positive that no one but the oarsmen who took part in first race were boated in the second. Faulkner was followed by three members of the crew, who corroborated his statement.  

At the hearing’s conclusion, the NAAO lead investigator stated his opinion that, “The Riversides have presented a very strong case, and with the testimony to come, I cannot see how their standing can be affected….I believe the Riversides told the truth.”  The club’s 1906 national championship was upheld. 


Riverside Boat Club's 1909 N.E.A.R.A. Banners

Riverside Boat Club 150th Anniversary History Series

By: Dick Garver

The New England Amateur Rowing Association banners hanging on the boathouse’s second floor attest to Riverside Boat Club’s long and accomplished history. Their embroidered silk and fringe evoke an era when rowing had a more prominent place in the sporting universe than it does today.  To some extent, however, they are wall paper, classy but part of the background.  When you learn the story behind the two hanging to the left of the porch door, awarded to the winners of the association’s July 4, 1909 regatta singles and eights events, those banners may take on a more vivid place in your consciousness.

Boston in 1909 was an industrial city of 670,000 and growing.  A municipality of working class neighborhoods, scarcely more than 10 percent of its population was native to it for multiple generations. The North End’s “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, maternal grandfather of John F. Kennedy, was about to be returned to office as Mayor. The July 5, 1909 Boston Post’s front page displays the itinerary for newly elected President William Howard Taft’s visit.  Its sports section’s first two pages have extensive coverage of the Red Sox, who are in 3rd place in the American League, and the Nationals (later the Braves), who are in 8th and last place in the National League.  It reports that Harvard and Yale split their athletic competition during the past year, each winning two of their four events: Harvard had just won the boat race by six lengths and had won the football game the previous fall, while Yale won the track and baseball competitions.  It also projects the makeup of the Yale eight in the Harvard-Yale boat race of 1910, almost a year away.  The third sports page contains the headline “Big Regatta Today on Charles River.”  It is to be the N.E.A.R.A.’s twenty-third annual July 4 weekend regatta.  The story says that “The senior singles is the event that is causing the most talk, as the work of Carey Faulkner (of Riverside Boat Club) and Howard Murphy of the Boston Athletic Association has been watched for some time.” 

Carey (James) Faulkner On The Charles River

Carey (James) Faulkner On The Charles River

With that build-up, I eagerly turned to the July 6 paper to read the race results. Its front page headline, accompanied by vivid pictures, announces, “Many spilled, one drowned in Charles River Regatta.”  The sub-head reads, “All competing Eight-oared Shells Are Swamped” and “Life Savers Kept Busy Rescuing Oarsmen”.  The story begins, “Fifty-four men all struggling madly for their lives in the waters of the Charles River Basin was the climax that marked the regatta of the New England Rowing Association held yesterday afternoon. All were thrown into the river within a few seconds of each other when their eight-oared shells sank under them as a result of the high waves that had been constantly filling the boats.  In the rush of rescue one man was drowned. He was Edward Norley of (Parker Street in Lower) Roxbury, who pulled oar No. 3 in the St. Alphonsus boat.”  It goes on to say that, “Boat after boat had swamped in nearly every one of the previous events….While the confusion was at its height one of the eight-oared shells drifted down the stream in two pieces. It had been cut in two by the prow of a (police) launch.”

Boston Post front page, July 6, 1909

Boston Post front page, July 6, 1909

The day’s racing had been delayed by a strong northwest wind.  The last event, the race in question, was for junior eights.  At 4:00 PM six boats, including one from Riverside, left the line.  The Boston Medical Examiner, who happened to be the race referee, said that the St. Alphonsus boat clashed with another boat under the Harvard (Mass. Ave.) Bridge and sustained damage.  Three boats, led by the Jeffries Point R.A. from East Boston, with Riverside a length behind, crossed the finish line and promptly sank.  The other three boats, including the one from Roxbury’s St. Alphonsus Association, did not make it that far.  Its Edward Norley was reported to be a strong young man, a steam fitter who planned to attend Fordham University in the fall.  He couldn’t swim.  Although a rope was thrown to him, he failed to hold on to it.  The body had not been recovered.

The race results were reported in the sports section.  The headline, apparently without intentional double meanings, states that, “Upsets Are the Order of the Day in the Regatta on the Charles.”  The story begins, “The Metropolitan Boat Club of New York was represented in almost every event and the individuals performed well, but they were beaten in a match race with the Riverside eight-oared crew”—as is attested to by one of the banners.  As for the other, the paper reports that, “Carey Faulkner lived up to expectations and played with the field in the senior singles, winning in easy fashion….the light craft could hardly live in the rough sea. It was a case of the men that could keep their boat afloat in most races rather than the speedier oarsmen.” Riverside’s winning time in the mile and one half eights race was 8 minutes 35 seconds.  Faulkner’s winning time was 12 minutes 17 seconds, with Murphy of B.A.A second and Blackman of St. Alphonsus third.  The story is accompanied with a photomontage including the Riverside eight at the dock and Faulkner sitting in his boat, and another picture of the lead three boats in the junior eights event in heavy waves silhouetted against the Cambridge gas works.

So when you glance at the turn of the 20th Century banners awarded to Riverside for victories in N.E.A.R.A. regattas, if you spot the two from July, 1909 you might pause a moment to reflect on the story behind them.

The 1985 Head of the Charles Regatta

Riverside Boat Club 150th Anniversary History Series

By Dick Garver

The results Riverside rowers produced in the 1985 Head of the Charles Regatta confirmed the club’s transformation from a moribund neighborhood sculling club into an ambitious, growing organization dedicated to high quality rowing, both sculling and sweeps, at all levels of the sport.

Having decided not to replace Northeastern University, which rented two-thirds of the boathouse, when the college moved into its own building, in 1983 President Jim Hanley, Will Melcher, Ted Van Dusen and likeminded members embarked on an ambitious program to attract enough rowers to Riverside to make it self-sustaining.

Jim Hanley (stroke) Will Melcher (bow)

Jim Hanley (stroke) Will Melcher (bow)

Although it was not entirely recognized at the time, their decision coincided with a rising level of participation in the sport across the country.  The founding of Community Rowing Inc. in 1985 was a local manifestation. Within this context, the decision that perhaps contributed most to Riverside’s turnaround was to employ a coach.  In an era in which coaching at Boston rowing clubs was volunteer, it would make Riverside the only one on the Charles River to offer professional training.  In the face of old-guard resistance, Hanley hired Doug Clark, a former Canadian national team coach then residing in Boston, who embarked on an ambitious program to make the club a racing powerhouse and the home base of U.S. internationals.  Announcing his expectation that Riverside rowers would be the most technically accomplished on the river, club or college, Clark focused his rowers on the two-thirds of the stroke when their oars are out of the water.  In his words, “Moving the boat involves more than power.  It requires deep awareness on how the hull is moving in the water.”

Doug Clark

Doug Clark

Fortuitously, Clark’s ambitions coincided with renewed efforts by United States Rowing and the United States Olympic Committee to raise the level of the country’s international competitors.  The organizations funded two training centers. One was in Seattle.  The other was the former Boston Rowing Club located in Weld Boathouse, which, with both formal and informal support from Harvard University, became the Boston Rowing Center.  Rowers hoping to make the national team were drawn here. Clark’s coaching attracted a number of them to Riverside, including future national team rower Molly (Hoyle) Haskell, who in 1985 was the fourth person to enroll in his summer program.  Having come to Boston to compete for a national team boat but increasingly discouraged at BRC, she received encouragement from Clark, Hanley, Van Dusen and other members and, in her words, “found a home at Riverside.”

Morning Practice Through Weeks Bridge.  From left to right: John Marden (1985 Nationals Medalist), Vaclav Stejskal (former Czech National Team), Susan Gwen-Timothy (later on Canadian National team) and Maria Lane in the double, and Ted van Dusen.

Morning Practice Through Weeks Bridge.
From left to right: John Marden (1985 Nationals Medalist), Vaclav Stejskal (former Czech National Team), Susan Gwen-Timothy (later on Canadian National team) and Maria Lane in the double, and Ted van Dusen.

On the strength of Clark’s coaching and the arrival of rowers like Molly, 1985 proved to be Riversides’ breakthrough year.  It medaled at the Bay State Games, its own Riverside Sprints and Cromwell Cup, and regional races from New England to Philadelphia, and finished third in the National Championships team points trophy behind Vesper and NYAC, with wins in the senior lightweight double (Ted Marks and Rick Gales), senior heavyweight double (John Marden and Bill Randall), intermediate lightweight single (Ted Marks), and placed a club member in the winning mixed double.  Clark took a large contingent to the Canadian Henley Regatta, where Riversidewon nine women’s events, including six junior sculling titles.   Each women sculler placed in the top three in her event.  Among them, Carey Beth (C. B.) Sands, a future United States Rowing Hall of Fame member, won the junior and senior lightweight women’s single; she and Ruth Kennedy won in the junior and senior lightweight double and quad; while Izzie Gordon, Deb Fine, Maria Lane, and Mary Anczarski placed second in the quad.  On the men’s side, Dan Chernoff and Jeff Parks won not only the junior but the senior lightweight double event.  With these results, the club began its history of continuous success in Canada.

Let her run: Maria Lane, Susan Gwen-Timothy, Will Melcher and Ned Cooke

Let her run: Maria Lane, Susan Gwen-Timothy, Will Melcher and Ned Cooke

Riverside’s re-emergence as a rowing force culminated in the Head of the Charles that fall.  Although regatta records do not identify the 1985 points winner, Clark clearly remembers Harvard coach Harry Parker pulling alongside the dock to congratulate him and the club on winning the trophy, the first club ever to do so.   Riverside rowers having internalized the mindset espoused by Clark that they would dominate the river, they confirmed the club’s ascendancy in 1986.  Led by Sands’ first place in the lightweight women’s single, it finished second in the points trophy behind Harvard and ahead of Yale.  Four Riverside rowers placed in top three, including Maria Lane’s third in the women’s club single event. 

The Legacy of George Faulkner

Riverside Boat Club 150th Anniversary History Series

By: Richard Garver and Susan Waldman

In 1919, Riverside Boat Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a banquet attended by over two hundred at the boathouse. Dinner was followed by music and a speech by Harvard crew coach Bill Haines, after which Cambridge Mayor Quinn made a presentation to George Faulkner, former professional sculler, Harvard coach and talismanic Riverside figure.

Faulkner’s great great-granddaughter Susan Waldman and her husband Dennis recently visited Riverside hoping to swap information about him. The Faulkner family, with six year old George, left Ireland in 1847, the worst year of the “Great Hunger.” They came to Boston by way of St. John New Brunswick, Canada where they had been quarantined during a typhus epidemic, finally settling in East Boston.

Rowing soon became part of both George’s leisure and professional life. In 1856, at the age of fifteen, George took part in his first race, an impromptu affair between stevedore boats for a side bet of $10. Two years later he participated in his first regatta on the Charles River in the six-oared Shamrock. At the age sixteen or seventeen, George began rowing for a Commercial Street company that offloaded cargo from incoming ships. It was his job to race other companies’ rowers out to ships arriving in Boston harbor to secure the job of unloading them for his company. Faulkner might row upwards of 40 miles a day securing contracts for his employer. He would eventually purchase the company and run it well into his 80s.

George Faulkner (right) with his father Cary (left), circa 1857.

George Faulkner (right) with his father Cary (left), circa 1857.

Popular interest in rowing boomed following the Civil War. The region of the country that was most enthusiastic about professional rowing, and the wagering associated with it, was New England. Under the protocols of the day, Faulkner was considered a “professional” because he earned his living on the water. He was one of the most successful rowers in both sweep boats and singles. In 1876, the city of Philadelphia scheduled a regatta on the Schuylkill River as one of three sporting events (the other two being riflery and yachting) as part of the nation’s Centennial celebration. Faulkner entered the pairs competition with Charlestown’s Patsy Reagan, with whom he had been racing since 1868. Rowing out of South Boston at the time, he and Reagan defeated the vaunted Ward brothers and a celebrated pair from England to win the competition, collecting $1,000 and the title of world champions.

The popularity of rowing was so high in this era that Faulkner’s 1877 match race with Michael Davis, an Irish immigrant sculler and rowing innovator from Portland, Maine, attracted 30,000 spectators to the Charles. Faulkner was strong but Davis was a rowing innovator. He shocked Boston by defeating Faulkner. Buoyed by his victory, the following year Davis challenged any Boston sculler to race him over a four-mile course with a turn for $1,000 and the New England championship. Patsy Reagan, Faulkner’s 1876 Centennial Regatta pairs partner, was undefeated as a sculler that season and a hometown hero. He accepted Davis’ challenge. A longshoreman of few means, Reagan hoped to profit not only from winning the purse, but from betting what little money his family had and every penny he could borrow on the race.

Sponsored by the Old Colony Railroad, their race and three others that season were re-located from the Charles River to Silver Lake in Kingston, south of the city. The railroad had invested in recreational property on the lake and was hoping to promote sales as well as boost weekend ticket purchases. Anticipating unprecedented interest in the October 8, 1878 race, it scheduled a dedicated excursion train with several extra cars to transport competitors, spectators, and gamblers to the venue.

George Faulkner (standing) and Patsey Reagan, circa 1876.

George Faulkner (standing) and
Patsey Reagan, circa 1876.

Reagan started strongly. He had a solid lead past the viewing stands. As the boats came back into sight following the turn, which was beyond the spectators’ viewing range, however, they were dumbfounded. Davis had a clear lead. Reagan lost. The crowd rushed the ticket booths, suspecting that there was collusion or tampering of some type. Shots were fired as officials tried to control the angry mob. By the time a distraught Reagan had been safely escorted to a passenger car and the outraged spectators had boarded the excursion train back to Boston, it was quite late. In the falling darkness, the train ran into a freight car, throwing its cars off the track. Gaslights ignited a conflagration that killed nineteen people and injured nearly 200. Among the dead were Reagan and George Faulkner’s young wife, Margaret L. Brennan, mother of his two children. Reagan left a devastated young family. Six thousand people took off work to attend his funeral.

After retiring from racing, Faulkner became one of the most respected coaches of his day, including controversial stints coaching Harvard crews. During the 19th century, college rowing, like the other principal football, baseball and track, was organized on a club basis. Each club elected a captain, who was responsible for team selection and arranged for coaching, usually by a graduate with financial support and direction coming from alumni. Coaching by professionals was generally eschewed, but as college rowing grew in popularity, the pressure to win mounted. Despite Harvard’s reminder that, “it had been once agreed by Yale and Harvard that professional coaches or trainers would not be employed,”(New York Times, March 17, 1880) Yale, having lost to Harvard in fifteen of their last nineteen dual races, hired sculler Michael Davis, to Harvard’s condemnation. His crews were victorious in 1881 and 1882 but Yale reverted to amateur coaching after it lost to Harvard in 1883. The direction of condemnation reversed in 1885 when Harvard captain James Storrow, to maintain a veneer of amateurism, arranged for George Faulkner to be retained in a vague capacity other than as coach, in which he would observe his crew and give him advice, which Storrow passed on to his rowers. The ’85 crew, its stroke revised by Faulkner, beat Yale but lost badly in 1886. Faulkner continued to appear in Harvard coaching launches into the 90s. Nevertheless, from 1886 to 1905 Yale beat Harvard in eighteen of twenty dual races. In 1894, after being thrashed by Yale, Harvard rowers gave up control over their program to the college athletic department.

As the 20thCentury arrived, Riverside Boat Club was at its competitive peak. The Boston Globe’s rowing reporter proclaimed it “the first racing club in America.” Coached by Faulkner, its 1903 senior eight, repeating as New England champion, was considered the best the club had put on the water to-date. The Club’s J. Peterson, also coached by Faulkner, was a force in the senior singles.

Cary (bow) and William Faulkner (stroke).

Cary (bow) and William Faulkner (stroke).

Faulkner’s sons continued his Riverside legacy. To select the club’s intermediate singles entry for the 1908 nationals, it held a much publicized race among four members—reported to be the first time in Boston rowing history that there were four men in one club that were so competitive in their class. Up-and-coming Carey Faulkner, George’s son, defeated another second generation oarsman, Joe Ryan, prominent Cambridge boat builder William Davey’s son Frank, and J. Brassil to represent the club. Carey Faulkner won his event at Nationals. To celebrate, Riverside presented him with a gold watch and made him a life member. In 1909 he was the New England senior champion. Over the balance of the decade Riverside scullers were ascendant. Frank Davey won the New England singles championship in 1912. CareyFaulkner, his brother William, Davey, and Yale oarsman Henry Livingston formed a quad that won the U.S. National Championship in 1913. They repeated as champions the next year.

As Riverside’s 1919 50th anniversary testimonial to George Faulkner attests, he and his sons distinguished themselves during the fifty years period in which Boston rowing evolved from rough-and-tumble workingman’s competitions dominated by professionals into an amateur sport conducted by well-organized clubs and embraced by elite colleges.




Crusher Casey History

Among Riverside Boat Club’s best oarsmen during the late 1930s and early 40s and certainly its most colorful were three brothers from Sneen, County Kerry, Ireland, Steve, Jim and Tom Casey. In keeping with rowing’s long association with pugilism, Steve, Tom and two other brothers had been successful professional boxers and wrestlers in Ireland, but the seven siblings’ first love was rowing.  They raced victoriously in the 1930’s and it is said that five of them would have competed for Ireland in the 1936 Olympics had they not been disqualified for taking prize fight money.

In 1938, Steve “Crusher” Casey, recently arrived in Boston with Tom and Jim, won the world heavyweight wrestling championship at the Garden, a title he would hold until 1947.  Looking for a place to row, the three gravitated to Riverside, the Boston club with an Irish as well as a boxing pedigree, where they were soon known as “the famous Caseys.”  In 1940, they issued a challenge through the Boston Globe to any four in the country to race them on the Charles.  They were to be joined by another brother once it was accepted.  After watching the Caseys train, however, no one responded until Union Boat Club’s Russell Codman, Jr., a silver medalist sculler in a recent national championships but now 45 years of age, agreed to a singles race.  The Boston Globe sponsored the event, offering $1,000 in prize money.

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Former Harvard oar Governor Leverett Saltonstall put up a cup for the winner.  The principals raised $2,000 in stakes.  Arranged for November 10, the race attracted an enormous crowd, reported to have included young Jack Kennedy.  Tom Casey, age 25 and famed for his blistering cadence, finished first, Jim was second, Steve third and Codman fourth.  Tom is said to have gone on to win every race he entered.  As for Crusher, it is testimony to his popularity on both sides of the Atlantic that his statue stands today in Sneen, while in this country his bars, Casey’s in Boston and Casey’s Too in Hull, were favorite watering holes for locals, Irish immigrants and rowers alike.

Our Boathouse’s 100th Anniversary

By: Richard Garver

Riverside Boat Club’s boathouse turned 100 years old last month.  Its construction is closely linked to the transformation of the Charles River into a park system at the turn of the 19th Century.  To that point, the river’s Cambridge shore between the Brookline (B.U.) Bridge and Watertown was a series of tidal marshes and mud flats, punctuated by industrial sites like The Riverside Press and the adjacent Cambridge Electric Company, between which was wedged Riverside 1891 boathouse, Harvard’s coal yards, and the Watertown Arsenal.  The river rose and fell at least five feet with the tides, sweeping through bridge pilings like a mill race.  In 1905, a Riverside rower was quoted as saying that the club members “find occupation for their leisure moments fishing Harvard oarsmen out of the river” when they fetch up against the Western Avenue Bridge.  “There was a time when a rescue meant the present of a new sweater or a pair of rowing tights, but now it is scarcely ‘Thank you.’ ”  At low tide the river became too narrow for two crews to race abreast.

1912-boathouse.jpg

In 1893, the City of Cambridge issued a plan to turn its riverfront into a recreational facility.  It proposed that the river be dammed upstream from Craigie’s Bridge.  The City would construct an esplanade between the West Boston (now Longfellow) bridge and the Brookline Bridge, a park and swimming beach above Brookline Bridge known as Captain’s Island (now Magazine Beach), and a tree-lined parkway to be called the Charles River Road that would run upriver past Harvard.  To that end, the City acquired most of its riverfront by eminent domain in January 1894.  The property takings caused the wholesale reconfiguration of the Cambridge rowing clubs.  The Cambridge Casino, the forerunner of Cambridge Boat Club, was moved to a site opposite DeWolf Street to make way for the new parkway in 1895.  The Harvard Rowing Club relocated the first Weld Boathouse to a new bulkhead in 1897.  Harvard’s 1869 boathouse was demolished and its crews moved across the river to Newell Boathouse in 1901.

The assembly of the right-of-way for the Charles River Road, which would be renamed Memorial Drive in honor of those killed in World War I following its transfer to the Metropolitan District Commission in 1923, was impeded by the presence of The Riverside Press, but in 1901 the City acquired this section of the alignment.  The taking included Riverside’s boathouse, with the implication that the club would have to relocate to a new site.  The transformation of the river into a recreational lake was completed with the construction of the Charles River dam, authorized by the legislature in 1903 and operational in 1910.

Ironically, these waterfront improvements accelerated the demise of some Charles River rowing clubs.  In 1906, Riverside Boat Club’s Cambridgeport rival, the Bradford Boat Club, moved its boathouse out of the way of the river improvements and the impending construction of a new Cottage Farm (the present B.U.) Bridge.  The park commission served notice in the spring of 1909 that the club must either renovate its building or remove it from the park reservation.  Bradford attempted to raise the money to rebuild within the new parkland but it was soon reported that, “It now looks as though (Bradford) have to vacate the location granted for the boathouse on the east bank of the Charles River just above the Cottage Farm Bridge owing to the lack of funds to meet the requirements of the park commissioners.”  On the other hand, the BAA took advantage of the improvements.  With the Charles River no longer tidal, in 1911 it gave up its floating boathouse on the Cambridge shore in favor of a new boathouse within the park just below the Grand Junction Railroad’s bridge at the site of the present Boston University boat house.

The Cambridge park commission permitted Riverside to continue to occupy its boathouse while planning went forward for the Charles River Road.  It was still in use in the spring of 1911.  At about 1:00 A.M. on May 2, a watchman at the Cambridge Electric Co. spotted a fire in the building and sounded the alarm.  The blaze was visible for miles and attracted a large crowd.  At one point it spread to the adjacent electric company coal bins, but was soon contained.  A Riverside member who tried to salvage club equipment had to be treated for smoke inhalation.  In less than an hour, the building had burned to the ground.  The club lost its boats, including four eights, two doubles, two four-oared workboats, two fours, twenty or more singles, as well as a number of whitehalls.  The fire also consumed seventy-five banners and trophies, including those for national championships won four years earlier at Worcester and in Saratoga in 1894.  As a result, only three of the New England Amateur Rowing Association banners hanging in the boathouse date before 1912.

On May 5, a membership meeting instructed a committee to locate temporary quarters until a new boathouse could be constructed.  The St. Alphonsus Athletic Association, which had recently opened a boathouse on the Boston shore just below the Brookline Bridge (August 2012 Riverside Press), invited the club to share it for the time being.  Riverside considered purchasing Bradford’s old facility, but decided instead to build a new boathouse.  On June 10, 1911, it held a fundraiser at the Scenic Temple, featuring moving pictures, music, illustrated songs and sketches.  Winter quarters were rented on Massachusetts Avenue.  By December, design work was underway and the Cambridge Park Commission was considering the club’s proposal for a site on a small spit of land between Pleasant and River Streets within the projected Captain’s Island Park.  On February 12, 1912, Riverside was granted a twenty-year lease for the site.

The City of Cambridge, the owner of the building when it was destroyed, settled with the club for $7,000.  With these funds in hand, Riverside filed building plans with the City in April, 1912.  Construction on the new structure, the club’s present boathouse, was quickly under way.  It is not clear what rowing activities were carried on that season, but under president Thomas Riley and vice president T. F. Toomey Riverside continued to conduct boxing tournaments, including its annual tournament in Cypress Hall on Prospect Street.

The new boathouse was completed in September 1912 at a cost of $7,600.  Surrounded by mud flats that were soon to form the western end of Captain’s Island, it was a two-story, hip-roofed structure 50 feet wide and 70 feet deep resting of wooden pilings capped with concrete piers.  The first floor housed the club’s boats as well as a training room, showers, lockers and a dressing room.  The second was devoted to a large assembly and dance hall with a raised band area, still visible in its downstream corner, as well as a women’s room and a checkroom.  The section of the Charles River Road and its supporting seawall between Western Avenue and River Street, the last to be constructed, were completed in 1914.  Cambridge’s 1916 Atlas shows Riverside’s boathouse within the newly constructed riverfront parkland, adjacent to the men’s, women’s and boy’s bathhouses serving Captain’s Island.