In recognition of a contribution of more than $1 million towards the construction
of the facility by the Ben and Cheslee Porter Family.
Women’s Openweight, Women’s Lightweight and Men’s Rowing
680 Babcock Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Located along the south shore of Lake Mendota, one of four Madison-area lakes, Porter
Boathouse gives the University of Wisconsin rowing programs an unrivaled home in
the world of collegiate rowing. Completed in 2005, the spacious on-campus facility
provides room for the women’s openweight and lightweight programs, as well as the
men’s program to train to compete for NCAA, IRA and conference championships on
an annual basis.
Taking its spot at the end of Babcock drive on the University of Wisconsin campus
and along the south shore of Lake Mendota, the unique state-of-the-art facility
blends with and compliments the classic architectural style of the adjacent lakeshore
dorms and their wooded surroundings. The boathouse features natural stone for the
exterior walls and a lead coated copper roof. The building was designed to preserve
and protect the beautiful mature oak trees in the neighboring lakeshore area.
The original boathouse, located in front of the Red Gym, stood from 1893 through
At water level, the boathouse includes five storage bays that fit more than 100
boats, along with a sixth repair bay.
On the ground level of the boathouse, which includes the main entrance at the end
of Babcock Drive, the main operations of the rowing programs take place. The floor
includes coaches offices and team locker rooms. It also includes a community meeting
room, catering kitchen and the moving water rowing tanks.
Finally, on the top floor, each of the three Wisconsin rowing programs has its own
training room. The rooms are separated by glass walls that can be opened up to create
one huge room for training or special events. Three outdoor terraces are also reached
from the training rooms, including the largest terrace that overlooks scenic Lake
Mendota and can be used as an additional training area.
The $300,000 boathouse completed in 1967 and located at the site of the current
boathouse, served as UW’s home until 2003.
The three-story boat house for the UW men's and women's rowing teams was constructed
on the site of the former crew house at the end of Babcock Drive along the shore
of Lake Mendota. The previous 15,000 square foot crew house, which was built in
1967, was demolished to make way for the new facility.
The new 52,000 square foot crew house cost $8.56 million, which included Athletic
Department program revenue bonding and $3.25 million in gifts. The Porter Boathouse
was named in recognition of a contribution of over $1 million toward the facility
made by the Ben and Cheslee Porter Family. In addition to the generous gift from
the Porter family, many crew letter winners, UW alumni, and friends made gifts to
support the project.
The Porter Boathouse was designed by KEE Architecture, Inc. of Madison and Vincent
James Associates of Minneapolis. Construction of the Crew House began in September
of 2003, with the substantial completion date in December 2004. The building was
dedicated prior to the Midwest Rowing Championship on April 22, 2005.
Check List of Team and Fan Amenities
The Badgers are lucky to row in Madison with its five area lakes. The largest body of water, Lake Mendota, boasts natural beauty and views of the State Capitol.
Lake Level (1st Floor)
• Storage space for more than 100 boats in five boat bays and a boat repair
Ground Level (2nd Floor)
• Main public building entrance
• Coaches and staff offices
• Team locker rooms
• Moving water rowing tank for 24
• Community meeting room
• Catering kitchen
• Historical Displays
• Donors/Coaches/Rowers Hall of Fame
• Three separate team workout rooms
• Sports medicine areas
• Exterior terraces
Checking in at over 15 square miles and 9800 acres, Lake Mendota serves as Wisconsin
rowing’s home body of water. With the boathouse along the south shore of the lake
and on campus, the Badgers frequently row past the Memorial Union, where Wisconsin
students and staff and Madison residents visit to enjoy the outdoor plaza. Wisconsin
rowers also enjoy views of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, campus natural
areas, Governor Nelson State Park, the Governor’s Mansion and other Madison sights
when traversing its waters.