History of the Minneapolis Rowing Club
In July 1877, fifteen young men founded the Lurline Boat Club in Minneapolis, MN. Wishing to improve their physical condition as well as their social status, they purchased a four-oared boat from the St. Paul Boat Club and began rowing on Lake Calhoun. The first membership dues were $10 per year, with a $1 monthly fee. With the membership money they were able to purchase two new pairs: one from the White Bear Lake boat builders Leman and Johnson and the other from Bachelor of Hudson, MN.
The club started holding regattas, which drew many spectators. The July 4th regattas in 1879 and 1881 were said to have five thousand spectators lining Lake Calhoun’s shores. In 1885, the club hosted the first international regatta on Lake Minnetonka, organized by the newly created Minnesota and Winnipeg Rowing Association. This association was the predecessor to the present day Northwestern International Rowing Association (NWIRA).
As the turn of the century approached, the Lurliners were affected by a series of obstacles including an aging membership and increasing enthusiasm for golf and other service organizations. Forced to move their facility several times, the club faced waning interest and considered withdrawing from the Minnesota and Winnipeg Rowing Association. They reorganized, inviting any man paying a $5 fee to join the newly named Minneapolis Rowing Club. However, the Spanish American War and World War I spelled the end for the once prestigious club. Between 1901 and 1903 their fleet was sold to the Minikahda Club who in turn sold it to the Minnetonka Yacht Club.
After World War I, in 1928, Lee Miller and Scott Duncan started rowing out of the Calhoun Beach Club. Initially they called themselves the Calhoun Beach Rowing Club, and then the Minneapolis Crew Club, before restoring the historic link to the original Lurliners by selecting Minneapolis Rowing Club as their name. The Club was formally incorporated as the Minneapolis Rowing Club in 1938.
World War II and city expansion forced the closing of the Calhoun rowing facility. Between 1958 and 1965 members of MRC were landlocked. They may not have rowed, but they planned and constructed the boathouse which occupies the current location on the west bank of the Mississippi River just north of the Lake Street Bridge. In 1965, the boathouse was opened. The original Duncan-Miller boathouse was a distinctive A-Frame structure.
Sadly, the Duncan-Miller boathouse burned to the ground in 1997. MRC members saw in this an opportunity to raise funds to construct a better boathouse. The new boathouse was designed by Vincent James Architects. The distinctive parabolic roofline evokes the shape of an oar pulling through the water. The architects were awarded the Progressive Architecture Award by Architectural Record. That facility opened for use in 2002, and it is the main boathouse used today.
The club currently has about 250 members, including teams for men, women and high-school students. MRC continues to grow with programs for everyone including people just learning to row, social rowers and competitive rowers looking to compete both nationally and internationally.