Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Detroit Boat Club (current)

Today, it's a crumbling landmark on Belle Isle, but the Detroit Boat Club is steeped in history.

Founded in 1839, the Detroit Boat Club is the oldest such organization in the country. This building, the DBC’ s seventh home, was designed by Alpheus W. Chittenden and dedicated Aug. 5, 1902. The Venetian-style clubhouse sits on the site of the club’ s two previous homes — both lost to fires. Looking to avoid a three-peat, this clubhouse was built as one of the earliest structures in the country built entirely of concrete.

This building opened to members on Aug. 4, 1902, and to guests the following day, when the dedication and an inaugural dance was held. "Dancing was continued until nearly midnight, as there were several hundred who were anxious to step the light fantastic in the pretty ballroom," the Detroit Free Press wrote the following morning.

Today, hundreds of athletes use the building, though the clubhouse has become rundown. The Detroit Boat Club Crew, through the Friends of Detroit Rowing, has been fixing up this Belle Isle gem, and its future hasn’t look this bright in decades.

More on this building of Detroit coming soon.