Newell Boathouse

Newell Boathouse, named for a popular Harvard athlete killed just a few years after graduation, is the primary boathouse used by Harvard University's varsity men's rowing teams.[1] It stands on land subject to an unusual[2] peppercorn lease agreement[3] between Harvard and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Called "the elder statesman among Charles River boathouses",[4] Newell Boathouse is named for 1894 Harvard College graduate Marshall Newell, a varsity rower and All-American football player in all four of his undergraduate years, "beloved by all those who knew him" and nicknamed "Ma" for the guidance he gave younger athletes.[5] After Newell was killed in 1897 while working as an official of the Boston and Albany Railroad,[6] $2,000 was raised for a boathouse in his memory.[5]

Built in 1900 on the south side of the Charles to a design by Peabody and Stearns (architect Robert Peabody having been rowing captain as a Harvard undergraduate),[1] Newell Boathouse is constructed of concrete, with a slate facade and roof. It was Harvard's first permanent boathouse,[7] replacing a series of wooden boathouses in the area.[8] In addition to storage for racing shells, the building provides locker rooms, meeting and training rooms, and rowing tanks and other practice equipment.[4] Architectural historian Bainbridge Bunting wrote that its "complex profile ... closely resembling that of Carey Cage reflected in the Charles in the early morning, has made it a landmark on the river."[7]

Site lease

The "prime riverfront space" upon which Newell Boathouse stands belongs to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to having given the Commonwealth forty-six acres of land downriver, Harvard pays $1 per year for the right to maintain a boathouse on the site, under a lease running one thousand years, at the end of which time Harvard has the option to renew the lease for a further thousand years[2]an example of a peppercorn lease amounting to "virtual freehold."[3]

See also


  1. 1 2 Shand-Tucci, Douglas; Cheek, Richard (2001). Harvard University: An Architectural Tour. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-1-56898-280-9.
  2. 1 2 Shortsleeve, Joe (May 21, 2012). "Businesses Score Dream Leases At Taxpayers' Expense". CBS Local. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  3. 1 2 Clarke, David (2006). "Long Residential Leases: Future Directions". In Bright, Susan. Landlord and Tenant Law: Past, Present and Future. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 171–190. ISBN 9781847312785.
  4. 1 2 "Men's Heavyweight Crew. Newell Boathouse". Harvard University. 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  5. 1 2 Lincoln, Rose (October 19, 2011). "Hidden Spaces: Newell Boathouse".
  6. "Marshall Newell Killed". The New York Times. December 25, 1897.
  7. 1 2 Bunting, Bainbridge; Floyd, Margaret Henderson (1998). Harvard: An Architectural History. Harvard University Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-674-37291-7.
  8. Haglund, Karl (2003). Inventing the Charles River. MIT Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-262-08307-2.

Coordinates: 42°22′11″N 71°07′33″W / 42.3697°N 71.1258°W / 42.3697; -71.1258

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