University Barge Club

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University Barge Club
UBC logo.jpg
Image showing the rowing club's blade colours
Location #7 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Home water Schuylkill River
Established 1854
Navy admission 1858 (founding member)
President Howard Greenberg, Esq.
Secretary Richard E. Wegryn
Treasurer Dixon Shay
Coxswain Bruce LaLonde
Captain John Curtin III
Navy delegate Brian McLelland
Membership 200[1]
Colors Royal Blue      and White     
Affiliations Chestnut Hill Academy and Springside School

University Barge Club of Philadelphia (also known as UBC)[2] is an amateur rowing club located at #7 in the historic Boathouse Row of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.[3] The Club's founding, in 1854, is considered the "dawn of organized athletics in the University of Pennsylvania."[4] Known as "the upper-class rowing club," UBC is a founder, and the most senior member, of the oldest amateur athletic governing body in the United States, the Schuylkill Navy.[5]


University Barge Club was founded in 1854 by ten members of the University of Pennsylvania’s freshman class:[6] They first rowed out of a Schuylkill boathouse near the Fairmount Waterworks known simply as "Charlie’s boathouse".[7] The Club was officially formed when the founders purchased its first boat, the Hesperus, from Bachelors Barge Club.[8] Club members wore sailor uniforms from clothier Jacob Reed that were monogrammed with “U.B.C.” on their hats and belts.[2] In 1855, members of the Club, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Barge Club, built a one-story brick boathouse on rented land.[8] The Club purchased a second boat, named Lucifer.[7] After 1860, both boats were moved to a space rented from the Philadelphia Skating Club, which is now the Philadelphia Girls' Rowing Club.[9]

At first, membership was limited to students enrolled at Penn, but the Club was not listed as a student organization of the University until 1867, when the University Barge Club won the Schuylkill Navy championship flag.[7] Membership was later opened to Penn alumni and certain non-alumni.[7]

Although the Club was still affiliated with the University, it gradually began to cater more to non-students.[8] As the Club’s membership became dominated by Old Philadelphians[10] from the upper-class[5] aristocracy, student enthusiasm waned.[7]

In 1871, the Fairmount Park commission allowed the Club to build its own boathouse on Boathouse Row.[11] In 1872, Penn students formed an alternative club, the College Boat Club, to cater to students and focus on preparing for intercollegiate competitions.[7]

In 1887, for social functions, University Barge Club leased an additional upriver clubhouse on the west bank of the Schuylkill, called The Lilacs.[5][10] Today, while many of the University Barge Club's members are University of Pennsylvania graduates, the Club has no official affiliation with the University.[7]

University Barge Club is the sister club of Union Boat Club of Boston.[12] For more than 60 years, the two sister clubs have held an annual interclub "UBC" regatta.[12]

History of the boathouse[edit]

The boathouse, at #7-8 Boathouse Row, dates from 1871, and was greatly expanded in 1891.[13] Originally, University Barge Club only occupied #7, while Philadelphia Barge Club occupied #8. In 1932, University Barge Club acquired #8 when Philadelphia Barge Club ceased operations.[13]


  1. ^ "University Barge Club". University Barge Club. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Thayer, John B. (June 1904). "The Early Years of the University Barge Club of Philadelphia". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 29. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. pp. 287–88. 
  3. ^ "Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State" (PDF). National Historic Landmarks Survey, National Park Service. p. 81. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Thayer, John B. (June 1904). "The Early Years of the University Barge Club of Philadelphia". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 29. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. p. 284. 
  5. ^ a b c Baltzell, E. Digby (2001). "Upper-Class Clubs and Associations in Philadelphia". The Protestant Establishment Revisited. Transaction Publishers. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-7658-0664-2. 
  6. ^ Crowther, Samuel; Arthur Brown Ruhl (1905). "The Beginning of Rowing". Rowing and Track Athletics. New York: MacMillan. p. 24.  J. Ashurst Bowie, Horace G. Browne, Alexander B. Coxe, Pemberton S. Hutchinson, Chas. I. Macouen, J. Beauclerc Newman, James H. Peabody, Edmund A. Robinson, George H. Waring, and John W. Williams.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Tannenbaum, Seth S.; Hood, Clifton R.; McConaghy, Mary D. (April 2006). "University Barge Club founded 1854, Penn Crew in the 1800s". University Archives, University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Thayer, John B. (June 1904). "The Early Years of the University Barge Club of Philadelphia". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 29. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. pp. 285–86. 
  9. ^ Peverelly, Charles A. (1866). "University Barge Club". The Book of American Pastimes. New York. pp. 204–05. 
  10. ^ a b Burt, Nathaniel (1999). "The Schuylkill Navy". The Perennial Philadelphians: the anatomy of an American aristocracy. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 297–98. ISBN 978-0-8122-1693-6. 
  11. ^ Stillner, Anna (2005). The Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club: An Incremental Historic Structure Report (Thesis). p. 28. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta 2009 Program" (PDF). Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. 2009. p. 22. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "University Barge Club History". University Barge Club. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°58′10″N 75°11′15″W / 39.96937°N 75.18739°W / 39.96937; -75.18739