By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The dilapidated boathouse next to the Strawberry Mansion bridge on Kelly Drive is about to follow its owner from the brink of extinction to the top of its class. Temple University rowers joined city and University officials, today, in breaking ground on work to restore the historic boathouse.
Built in 1914, it was once the Drive’s most stunning boathouse, its mission style unique. But it had fallen so far, two years ago, Temple cut the crew team rather than make repair. Trustee Gerry Lenfest stepped in with three million dollars and crew was reinstated but coach Gavin White says they’ve been rowing out of a tent.
“I told them last year, it’s like being in Valley Forge. We’re out there in a tent, in the snow,” White said.
“The kids never complained. They don’t say a word. They just put their nose to the grindstone and go for it.”
White has been coach for 34 years but, suffering from Parkinsons, he says this may be his last. He’s happy to be going out in style.
“This is a far cry from the heartbreak I felt when I found out they were cutting the program. It really broke my heart but I think they do understand. Philadelphia, without Temple rowing, it just wouldn’t have been the same.”