Coffee Table Book on Historic German Boathouses

1 November 2021

By Stephan Ploke

Three years ago, Tim Koch argued on this site that “German Boathouses were not Jerry Built”. Those who have a deeper interest in the topic might be interested in the book Historische Bootshäuser on the architecture of German boathouses built between 1883 and 1933, i.e. during the first 50 years of the existence of the German Rowing Federation.

Layout example showing Ruderverein Sturmvogel Leipzig.

The book was initiated by Helmut Griep, former president of the German Rowing Federation, who later led the federation’s Historic Committee. Unfortunately, Griep passed away before the volume was completed. I was largely responsible for identifying the boathouses and doing research in club archives, museums, libraries and at monument conservation authorities. Architect and historian Petra Hoffmann completed the team and converted the materials into texts.

Münchener Ruderclub in Swiss-Chalet-Style.

Identifying the boathouses was not always easy, as approximately one third of the 100 buildings covered in the book are not used by rowing clubs any longer, but rather serve as restaurants, residential homes, canoe or sailing clubs or youth hostels. Out of these 100 boathouses, 60 are discussed in detail whilst 40 are only briefly introduced. We limited ourselves to houses which are still existing, and our focus was on presenting a wide variety of architectural styles and periods rather than selecting those clubs with the largest houses or most impressive athletic heritage.

Academic Rowing Club Berlin Grünau in English inspired Country-Style.

As such, architectural styles range from early boathouses built in the Swiss-Chalet Style to turn of the century Country-House-Style inspired by English Architecture to Neo-Classicism and Interwar-modernism architecture, partly quoting elements of the Bauhaus movement.

Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania in Neo-Classicism-Style.
Ruderclub Beeskow in Interwar-modernism Style with hints of Bauhaus style.

The book has 256 pages and c. 300 historic and contemporary photographs. The book can be purchased online or maybe at your local bookshop (depending on where you are located). Copies are available on the publisher’s website and on the antiquarian booksellers’ website.

Historische Bootshäuser by Petra Hoffmann, Michael Imhof Publishing, ISBN 978-3-7319-0933-0, €29.95

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