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See the Detroit Boat Club of the past in these historic photos

Photos provided by Michael G. Smith

We recently revisited Belle Isle’s Detroit Boat Club as they work on renovating projects around the 117 year old building. Curbed was recently sent some historic photos of the boat club, along with some old Free Press articles from when the second Detroit Boat Club building burned and the current one was proposed.

Michael G. Smith, who’s releasing the book Designing Detroit, Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture this spring through Wayne State University Press, came across these photos in his research. Rowland worked once for architect Clair Ditchy, whose daughter lives in Metro Detroit. She shared the photos with Smith, who sent them to Curbed after seeing our story.

You can see the ballroom, which present day has rowers in it, was used at this time (date unknown) for a variety of seating areas with tables and chairs. You can see the gorgeous beams that we saw on our visit, as well as oars decorating the walls.

Detroit Boat Club
Detroit Boat Club current day

The current Detroit Boat Club building was opened in 1902 and designed by architect Alpheus W. Chittenden. Here are a few of the stories about the Detroit Boat Club House, including the second building that burned in 1901, with a fantastic description of events, plus the debut of the one we know today in 1902.

Many thanks to Michael G. Smith for the historic pictures and documents.