Last Saturday, a project 10 years in the making was finally realized with the dedication of the new Hodson Boathouse.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I think we can all agree that it’s the incarnation of our dreams,” said Washington College President Kurt Landgraf at the ceremony.
Because the dedication coincided with Fall Family Weekend, students, parents, faculty, and community members all came together on the deck of the new facility for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting.
A brochure given to the guests at the dedication described the Boathouse as “the College’s ‘Front Porch.” It is the hope of many involved that the building will bring the community together.
“This project not only tremendously benefits our intercollegiate rowing and sailing program, but also benefits the College as a whole and allows us to further showcase our location,” said Thad Moore, WC director of athletics.
“Few schools are lucky enough to have a river as beautiful or storied as the Chester,” President Landgraf said.
In addition to including a classroom, spacious locker rooms, a new rowing tank and Erg machine, trophy cases, and offices that incorporate large windows to let in natural light and views of the waterfront, the Hodson Boathouse can also be used as an event space.
Moore believes it will make the waterfront “a more attractive destination for our students than ever before.”
According to Landgraf, the idea for the Boathouse was first conceived in 2007, and was only possible because of the support of the Hodson Trust, which has been supporting WC water sports, since the development of the College’s rowing program about 50 years ago.
“Our vision has never wavered,” he said.
Ann Horner, a trustee of WC, then addressed the crowd, saying that the donors’ main reason for supporting the project was “your passion and your belief.”
Senior Alex Kincaid, captain of the Men’s Crew, said that he first heard about the new boathouse on a recruitment visit in 2014.
Kincaid called the experience of finally training in the Boathouse “surreal,” and said, “It really is a first-class training facility, and I assure you it was very much worth the wait.”
Moore called the training facility “lightyears ahead,” and said, “It’s a true gamechanger for our rowing and sailing program with respect to both recruiting and student athlete development.”
Kincaid said of his experience rowing at WC, “I really could not be more thankful for this experience, and this facility is going to bring it to so many more people, being able to recruit and grow the size of the water sports here.”
In addition to the new Boathouse, the ceremony also displayed a new shell that will be used by the Women’s Rowing Team. It was christened the Michael L. Davenport, named for the WC rowing coach from 1990 to 2016.
Members of the Women’s Rowing Team and Head Coach Kari Hughes, were on hand to welcome the former coach.
Hughes said Davenport was, “instrumental to bringing the team together.”
It was Davenport himself who officially christened the shell by pouring Chester River water over it.
During this part of the ceremony, Davenport said that the new boathouse was “right up there” with state-of-the-art facilities around the country.
The brochure that was handed out to attendees said that the Boathouse, “is designed for resiliency in the face of rising sea levels and changes to the watershed.”
In addition to highlighting the environmental considerations that went into the construction of the Hodson Boathouse, the dedication alluded to future plans to showcase WC’s concern for the environment.
President Landgraf pointed out that construction has also begun for the Semans-Griswold Environmental Building, which will also become a part of the Chester River waterfront.
This day, however, was focused on the Boathouse, which President Landgraf believes will be “the first bright new gem in the College’s evolving waterfront.”