Construction Speeds Ahead on New Boathouse; Fundraising on Home Stretch

Andover Crew began its final season in its current boathouse this week and will relocate to a state-of-the-art facility next fall after 29 years in its present location in Andover.

The 1970’s pre-engineered steel building that Andover purchased to be the new boathouse was previously a Methuen truck dealership warehouse. The building is currently being renovated into a boathouse and will be ready for the team on September 1.

Peter Washburn, Head Coach of Andover Crew, plans to invite alumni and current rowers to row the boats up the river and dock them in their new home across the Merrimack in Methuen.

The acquisition and renovation of the boathouse cost a total of 6.5 million dollars, which was collected through donations from alumni, trustees, parents, and both current and former Andover rowers.

Fundraising, headed by the Office of Academy Resources, is still underway. As of March 10, 5.6 million dollars have been raised out of the total $6.5 million , according to Campaign for Andover’s website.

The renovation of the building began this February, after a year was spent obtaining the proper permissions from multiple agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Andover Crew will sell the current boathouse in order to cover part of the $6.5 million cost of the new boathouse, according to Washburn.

Washburn believes that the old boathouse symbolizes Andover crew’s dedication to hard work.

“The Andover Crew has been sort of a blue collar. It’s hard work, it’s not all the fancy stuff kind of crew,” Washburn said. “The fact that we don’t have a very nice facility doesn’t make any difference. We can still be fast.”

Washburn doesn’t think that the new, larger boathouses will affect the team’s racing record or the culture of the crew program.

“Boathouses don’t float. All that land doesn’t float. It still comes down to [the rowers] making the boats go fast…Just because [the team] is in a fancier place does not mean we don’t have to do stuff. We’ve still got to get out there and put in the work and get focused.”

Washburn added that the new facility will only change Andover crew in terms of space. The new facility sits on top of 5.8 acres of land, and the facility itself is far more spacious than the current boathouse.

The Andover coaches hope that the new boathouse, one of the largest high school boathouses in the Northeast, will attract more crew teams to come race at Andover, allowing rowers on junior varsity boats to race against competition more often.

The new facility will include changing rooms with eight larger bathrooms, a coach’s office, a new wooden dock, a large “Great Room” for family and friends to meet during regattas and a spectator-friendly location on the river. The spectator area will make docking and launching the boats easier because of the calmer waters and straighter shoreline.

John Galanis, the boathouse project manager, described the project as an “elegant industrial” project.

“The adaptive reuse of the existing metal building is an important element in how the Academy viewed this project,” said John Galanis, the boathouse project manager.

Galanis, like many other Andover faculty, agrees that the Andover crew team has become too large for its current home.

“Phillips Academy has outgrown its existing facility on River Road in Andover. The new location will give the program, in which 100 students participate, a bigger boathouse and more space for equipment.”

Mark Meyer ’13, a rower on Andover Crew, said, “Although I don’t believe it will necessarily increase our speed, the new boathouse is an outstanding gift that truly symbolizes the current depth and the promising future of Andover Crew.”

Henry Kennelly ’13, another rower, said that the extra space will help to streamline practices, leading to more water time. He also believes that the new waterfront is more user friendly than the older one.

“Not only will the actual boathouse provide a lot of help, but the race course is now actually straight and will be able to easily hold six crews instead of a questionable three or barely four,” said Kennelly. “Also, the spectators will actually be able to spectate during races from the new positioning…the entire program is certainly beyond grateful to everyone who has participated in its making.”