Thursday, August 11, 2016
Rain Date Friday, August 12, 2016
Much of the intrigue associated with the boathouses that dot the shorelines of New Hampshire’s lakes and their islands has to do with wondering what’s inside. Whether they are new and elegant or old and full of character, large or small, stylish or rustic, these boathouses are mysterious to those who cruise by them.
The history of the first boathouses on Lake Winnipesaukee is quite interesting. When “cottagers” came north from the cities by train in the later 1800’s and early 1900’s, they would board a livery steamboat at a train station to finish their journey to their camps on the water. The summer visitors stayed for two to three months and often the men commuted back and forth to work in Boston, New York, or Philadelphia on the Boston & Maine Railroad. Automobiles and roads were not as we know them today, so boats were the main means of summer transportation. Boathouses were built around the lake to accommodate the increasing number of privately owned boats. Some of these structures even had second floors that were used for staff, as guest quarters or for social functions and church services.
In recent years appreciation of the history and architecture of boathouses has increased dramatically. Vintage boat owners, especially, covet them because of the protection they afford wooden boats from the elements- and because this protection helps reduce the maintenance required to preserve old vessels.
With the enactment of New Hampshire’s 2008 Shoreline Protection Act, boathouses have become an endangered species. Very few new structures are allowed, and restrictions have seen placed on existing structures that may require maintenance or modification. This year’s tour again includes vintage and new boathouses of varying styles and sizes- and all with interesting features and details. No two boathouses are alike!
Tour by boat begins at one of two launch points: either the Sawmill Marina on Bay Street, or the Wolfeboro Corinthian Yacht Club on Nancy’s Way, right off Main Street. The museum is happy to collaborate with Sawmill Marina and with WCYC on this and other projects that serve our common goals. There are two departure times from each marina: 9:00am and 1:00pm.
The self driven car tour starts at the New Hampshire Boat Museum located at 399 Center Street (RT. 189/109), and runs from 9:00am until 4:00pm.
The antique car tour driven by volunteers also starts at the New Hampshire Boat Museum and departs at 9:00am.
Your ticket to the boathouse tour also gets you admission to the New Hampshire Boat Museum. Don’t forget to stop by the museum before or after your tour to see the museum. The museum is open from 9am to 4pm on the day of the tour.
The lake has much history that we hope to keep alive with these tours. In the coming years we plan to continue our journey around Lake Winnipesaukee and showcase some number of boathouses each summer. We encourage you to join the New Hampshire Boat Museum and help up to keep history and traditions alive!
Video Courtesy of NH Chronicle and WMUR-TV.