The Dedication of the William H. Brown 1934 Boathouse
Alumni and parents are cordially invited to the ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23
September 17, 2012
--This Sunday morning, before his Investiture, John Palfrey will be joined by Trustee President Peter Currie and Trustee Emeritus Oscar Tang, to mark another milestone: the dedication of the William H. Brown 1934 Boathouse.
Alumni and parents are cordially invited to the dedication, as well as the early morning row with students and Palfrey. Shells will be leaving the docks periodically, beginning at 6:30 a.m. The dedication begins at 9 a.m. and includes a continental breakfast. Kindly RSVP by September 19.
The William H. Brown 1934 Boathouse, located at 620 Lowell Street in Methuen, Mass., is named in memory of the founder of Andover’s crew program, who passed away on November 17, 2010—just one week following Trustee approval of the project.
A legacy on the Merrimack
William H. Brown 1934 Boathouse
By Victoria A. Harnish
A PA faculty member from 1939 to 1979, William Hayes Brown ’34, P’62, ’65, ’68
was considered the ultimate “triple threat”; he was an English instructor, a dorm counselor and longtime coach of crew. He also chaired the English department for several years. Many alumni fondly remember Brown as the man who taught them how to write. Hundreds of others, however, remember him as the man who showed them the meaning of teamwork.
In 1955, Brown—determined to introduce crew to Andover—acquired used shells and oars from Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The old Lawrence Canoe Club agreed to store the equipment and, with that, the program began. One hundred and seven boys joined that first year, among them Oscar Tang ’56. By 1958 Andover had sent its first crew to Henley Royal Regatta. The program quickly took hold and thrived for decades. In the late 1970s, though, Andover was at a crossroads. Needing both a new boathouse and a new coach, the Academy had to decide whether to continue or disband the sport.
In 1979, perhaps in the nick of time, Andover found Pete Washburn, crew coach and math instructor. He and his wife, Kit, were teaching and coaching at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass. The Washburns were asked to take a leap of faith as the school began to navigate crew’s future. “I had a good feeling that Andover would decide to keep the program,” says Washburn. “This is not a sport that easily dies.” Several years prior to Washburn’s arrival, the Greenway family had given Andover funds for a new boathouse. With an incoming coach and construction of a boathouse, Andover had fully committed to maintaining the crew program.
In 2006, Brown returned to Andover to celebrate the 50th anniversary of crew. Five boats filled with alumni—including Tang—rowed the Merrimack River that day, and Brown was honored for his perseverance in implementing the program. “The trustees in the ’50s had tried to dissuade me from establishing a crew program,” he said. “Little did they know that 50 years later we would have the president of the board [Oscar Tang] rowing on the Merrimack.”
Today Crew is thriving with more than 10 percent of the student body participating in the fall or spring programs. That overwhelming growth led to the need for a new facility—preferably on a more spectator-friendly section of the Merrimack. In 2010, Andover announced an agreement with a truck dealership in Methuen, Mass., to purchase its building and surrounding 5.8 acres.
On November 17, 2010, Brown passed away. One week prior to his death, Academy trustees reaffirmed their commitment to crew by giving the green light to the boathouse project. Since then, alumni, parents, and friends have rallied to support the new space. With garage bays suitable for 60-foot shells and easy waterfront access, the location is generating much excitement and donor support. Greatly anticipated after such modest beginnings 57 years ago, the William Hayes Brown 1934 Boathouse officially opened for crew this month.