BY LUKE REYNOLDS
PHOTO PROVIDED BY NMH
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Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in Gill, Mass., is now home to a new 7,000-square-foot boathouse that will serve as a base for the school’s coed 80-person crew.
“The Draper Riverhouse ties us to the river,” head of school Brian Hargrove said at the building’s naming ceremony. “It ties us to place in a way that differentiates us from other schools.”
NMH’s crew began in 1965 and has outgrown the nearly 50-year-old Speer Boathouse, which the Draper Riverhouse replaces.
“It’s totally utilitarian,” said Lou Kinder, NMH women’s varsity coach. “The architects did a great job making it aesthetically pleasing.
“The plans for this pre-date my time at NMH, but my understanding is that it’s a place to invite more of the student body down to the river. It’s definitely a space for the entire campus. I think it will draw more people to the program.”
The two-bay boathouse was designed by Daniel Johnson of WaterShed Studios. It includes additional outdoor storage for the crews’ sweep-boat fleet as well as several architectural embellishments such as skylights and light wells to allow natural light to enter the ground-floor boat bays and illuminate a wooden Pocock eight that will hang in the rafters.
“This boathouse provides the team with an elite training center, includes multi-functional space on the top floor for erging and training, two boat bays, and gives our fans and spectators a view of our entire racecourse from start to finish,” said rowing alumna Liz Donald, one of the schools’ rowing coaches and major gifts officers.
Construction began in the fall of 2019. Two alums–Sam Caligione ’88 and Mariah Draper Caligione ’89, co-founders of Dogfish Head, the Delaware brewing company–gave the lead gift.
The NMH crew will row larger boats later in the season, when it’s safe, but for now will use the new and improved space for erging at a safe distance, Kinder said. The crew is aiming for a full spring racing season, if possible.
“We had a lot of high spirits coming out of last fall after we placed second at the Head of the Charles,” Kinder said.
“The kids had set extremely high goals for themselves with the intention of racing at the [New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Championships]. That energy is still strong. We’ve been emphasizing that if we can get a little faster each day, we’ll be proud of the results.”