The Historic Detroit Boat Club

Detroit Boat Club
Detroit Boat Club

Location: Detroit, MI
Established: Feb. 18, 1839

History: Michigan had only been a state for two years, when, in 1839, the Detroit Boat Club was established by prominent men in Detroit’s society including E. A. Brush, Alpheus S. Williams, S.H. Sibley, Alfred Brush, J.H. Farnsworth, James A. Armstrong and John Chester. This was the first boat club formed in North America. By the next year, the club began to hold two mile (3 km) races on the Detroit River.

After losing three structures to fires (the one above is their second) in 1848, 1891, and 1893, DBC built a reinforced concrete structure – the first in the United States – which opened on Aug. 4, 1902. 

Beginning in 1872, DBC restricted its races to amateur oarsmen, which contributed directly to clarifying the distinction between amateur and professional sports. Since 1873, DBC has been represented at every national rowing regatta, and DBC rowers wearing blue and white have won 54 events and eight national team championships.

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