Lost Georgetown: Dempsey’s Boathouse

This week on Lost Georgetown, GM is discussing the former Dempsey’s Boathouse, which used to sit along the Potomac river.

Dempsey’s Boathouse was built in 1903, and stood immediately upriver of the Aqueduct Bridge. You can see it in the 1931 aerial photo above. The far left building is the Washington Canoe Club (built a year later in 1904), which still stands. Everything from about the “U” in University to the right is Dempsey’s Boathouse. It was really quite large.

This is, unfortunately, one of the few clear photos GM has ever found of the boathouse. Here is another, showing the boathouse from the rear (and which shows how close it was to the B & O railroad tracks):

Unlike the Washington Canoe Club (or the Potomac Boat Club on the other side of the Aqueduct bridge) Dempsey’s was not a private club. It was a public boathouse that offered canoes and kayaks for rental.

Here the boathouse was described in 1913:

While the boathouse was built in 1903, the house was substantial expanded in 1914 (and thus the photos above show it in its expanded form). The Post wrote about the expansion:

The club operated until 1960, when it was replaced by Thompson’s Boathouse. Sadly it then burned to the ground the following year:

The land where Dempsey’s Boathouse once stood is vacant now, spare some trees. The plot is targeted for additional boat storage as part of NPS’s long dormant plan to increase the number of boathouses along the Potomac:

But for now (and likely well into the future) the land will host nothing but a few maples and ducks.




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