The Vesper Boat Club had its beginning on Feb. 22, 1865– a decade into the flourishing of rowing clubs on Philadelphia's Schuylkill River– with the founding of the Washington Barge Club. Five years later, on Jan 1, 1870, it changed its name to Vesper Boat Club and quickly became one of the most celebrated rowing clubs in the United States and the world.
Vesper's eight-oared shell took the gold medal in Paris at the 1900 Summer Olympics. The Vesper eight repeated its victory at the 1904 games in St. Louis. And at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Vesper's eight won again, making it the only rowing club in the United States to win the title three times.
Kelly Sr. won Olympic Gold in the single scull in 1920. He also won gold medals in the double scull in 1920 and in 1924, both times with his cousin Paul Costello. As a laborer Kelly was barred from entering the Diamond Sculls at the Royal Henley Regatta. It was two decades later that John B. Kelly Jr. would win that event, in 1947 and 1949. Kelly Jr. won the national singles championship eight times. At the time of his death in 1985, he. was president of the United States Olympic Committee.
Under the coaching of such greats as Jim Manning, Dr. Charles W. Riggall, Allan Rosenberg and Dietrich Rose, many other Vesper members have gone on to cumulatively win more national and international races than any club in the United States.
The present clubhouse was constructed in combination with neighboring Malta, with the Vesper cornerstone dated 1865. The first building was completed in 1865, and the second boat bay addition in 1898. The last addition was completed in the early 1960s. The boathouse was designed by noted Philadelphia architect G.H. Hewitt. The architecture – semi -attached ornamental Victorian Gothic is typical of that period and members who were tradesmen constructed the original building with local building materials.
After a century of accomplishments for the men, Vesper in 1970 became the first men's club to organize a women's rowing team. (Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club in 1968 pioneered women's rowing in the United States.) Vesper women have consistently won national championships and have regularly represented the United States in international competition. At the Montreal Olympics in 1976, six Vesper members were on the USA Olympic Rowing Team.
In 1873, Vesper, in conjunction with Malta Boat Club, built a 11⁄2-story boat house. In 1898, a second floor and addition were added to Vesper, and other renovations have recently been completed. Howard Egar designed the 1898 alterations and additions to the Vesper Boat Club.
Mary Jones - 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 US National Team member (Pan Am Games Women's Lightweight Single Sculls Gold Medalist, World Championship Women's Lightweight Single Sculls, World Championship Women's Lightweight Double Sculls, Silver Medalist. )
Julia Lonchar - 2019 US National Team Member (Pan Am Games Women's Double Sculls, Bronze Medalist)
Yohann Rigogne - 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 US National Team Member (Men's Coxed Pair, Men's 8+, Men's Single Sculls)
Zachary Heese - 2018 Under 23 US National Team Member (Men's Lightweight Single Sculls), 2019 US National Team Member (Men's Lightweight Quadruple Sculls)
Jasper Liu - 2019 US National Team Member (Men's Lightweight Quadruple Sculls)
Kieran Edwards - 2019 Under 23 US National Team Member (Men's Lightweight Quadruple Sculls)
Michelle Sechser - 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 US National Team Member (Women's Lightweight Single Sculls, Quadruple Sculls, Double Sculls - bronze medalist)
Solveig Imsdahl - 2012 Under 23 US National Team (Women's Lightweight Quadruple Sculls), 2019 Pan Am Games US National Team (Women's Coxless Pair)
Elizabeth Euiler - 2019 Pan Am Games US National Team (Women's Coxless Pair)
Jonathan Kierkegaard - 2017 US National Team Member (Men's Quadruple Sculls)
Logan Smith - 2019 Pan Am Games US National Team (Men's Coxless Pair, Men's 8+)
James Garay - 2019 Pan Am Games US National Team (Men's Coxless Pair, Men's 8+)