For nearly 100 years members of the MRC rowed on the Milwaukee River above the North Avenue dam which, until the 1930's, was the city's principal recreational area with swimming beaches, swimming schools, and canoeing and rowing clubs. The Club is not Milwaukee's first or only rowing club. In the late 19th Century there was an earlier club called the Milwaukee Boat Club as well as other rowing clubs.
Until it burned in 1961, the Club boathouse was located at the east end of the North Avenue dam. The Club then moved to the former Downer College boathouse in Hubbard Park until that burned in 1989. After that fire, the Club moved below the dam to its present location at 1990 North Commerce Street, less than a mile from its original site.
The Michael J. Wisniewski Boathouse was built in 2003 as part of the Beerline River Homes and River Court development. The boathouse holds The Milwaukee Rowing Club’s entire fleet of boats, including nine coxed eights, eight coxed fours, one coxed quad, one straight quad, six doubles, ten singles, and dozens of personal rowing shells. The vast majority of club boats are manufactured by Vespoli, a leading boat maker. The boathouse also includes workspace for boat repairs.
Outside, there is a large plaza which allows boats to be cleaned after every row. There is also an approximately 150 foot dock which stores seven coaching launches.
The Milwaukee Rowing Club is fortunate to have a year-round, indoor training facility. The facility was nicknamed “Fight Club” years ago in reference to the movie. Rest assured, no actual fighting occurs here! Fight Club contains over forty Concept2 ergometers, a wide assortment of free weights, and other exercise equipment. This space is used primarily in the winter, but also is used when poor weather outside forces the team indoors.
Fight Club is located in the basement of the “Bottle House B” in the Schlitz Park office park. When you enter the front door, turn left immediately before going through the second set of doors. This will take you into the stairwell. Go down the stairs and through the door at the bottom of the stairs.