Crew and rowing teams move into East Park Canoe House five months after original target date

The crew and rowing teams moved their boats into the building Friday morning.

The crew and rowing teams moved their equipment into the East Park Canoe House Friday morning. The teams were originally set to move in during June. NISA CHAUDHRI FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

Five months after its expected completion date, the East Park Canoe House’s restoration is complete. The crew and rowing teams moved their boats into the building Friday morning.

The teams expected to move into the facility in June, like officials said in April, but instead finished competition for their fall seasons without enjoying the benefits of a boathouse.

The teams had been storing their boats in temporary tents since about 2008, rowing coach Rebecca Grzybowski said. Not all of the equipment could fit in the tents so some of it had to be left outside, she added.

Getting expensive equipment properly stored will benefit the team.

“Being able to have a home and not a tent is going to do so much for recruiting and for the morale of the student-athletes, which is so important,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty.

Grzybowski said the teams are planning a grand opening type of celebration for the spring “so everyone will get to come in and see it for themselves.”

Restoration on the boathouse began in July 2015, when Temple trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest agreed on a partnership with the city. The city contributed $2.5 million to the project and The Lenfest Foundation donated $3 million.

As The Temple News previously reported, the crew and rowing teams will have locker rooms in the southern wing, and have room for storing boats and oars in the northern wing. The Philadelphia Police Department’s marine unit and will also have reserved space in the building. There are also coaches offices and TVs to review technique on, Grzybowski said.

The city handled the design and construction of the facility, while the university gave input for what its specific needs were, said Tom McCreesh, Temple’s Director of Regulatory Compliance and Special Projects.

The East Park Canoe House is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. McCreesh said the detailed nature of restoring the historical landmark is part of the reason it took longer than expected.

The city hired Murphy, Quigley Company as the contractor for the restoration project. Other historical landmarks Murphy, Quigley has helped restore include the Assembly Room at Independence Hall and the East Falls library.

“It’s basically a restoration of the exterior and they put it back to the way it was when it was built,” McCreesh said. “As you can imagine, trying to get all the craftsmen and all the millwork and terracotta to match was a daunting task, and I think the city’s done an admirable job getting that done.”

“I think anybody that’s done any major construction project understands the inevitable delays that you’re faced with. … I don’t think it was really a surprise to anybody that it went a little past the anticipated deadline,” Grzybowski added. “We’re just excited that we’re in and it’s ready to go for the spring.”

The rowing program announced Thursday it signed 10 recruits from the Class of 2017, the largest fall recruiting class to-date, Grzybowski said. After only being able to show prospective athletes the outside of the boathouse, coaches can now bring them inside the facility.

Grzybowski said being able to tell athletes, parents and alumnae that restoration was complete was like getting to the finish line of a long race.

“I think it’s just really timely the fact that this is all happening right before we leave for fall break,” Grzybowski said. “Thanksgiving is next Thursday and it’s just kind of a good time to reflect and be very grateful for everything, everyone that got us to this point. We’re really proud of what we represent and who we represent and we’re excited to just continue doing that in the future. It’s a great day for Temple rowing.”

Owen McCue and Evan Easterling can be reached at

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