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Shea Rowing Center

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 06/18/2006
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Courtesy: Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak

Shea Rowing Center On Lake Carnegie

Considered one of the finest rowing facilities in the nation, the Shea Rowing Center is the home for Princeton rowing. It stands next to Lake Carnegie and the Albridge C. “Bud” Smith III ‘36 Memorial Race Course, where the Tigers hold their home races.

Princeton University used a gift of $4 million from Irene C. Shea of Pittsburgh, Pa., to expand and renovate its landmark boathouse and crew facilities on the banks of Lake Carnegie. The gift was used to create the C. Bernard Shea Rowing Center, honoring Mrs. Shea's late husband, a member of the Class of 1916 and a rower during his college career.

Princeton's crews have participated in intercollegiate rowing competitions since 1872, and the crew program had been housed in the picturesque Class of 1887 Boathouse since 1913. Today the University has one of the premier rowing programs in the country, and it is the largest varsity sports program at Princeton. But with more than 200 student participants, the program had outgrown the somewhat antiquated space and facilities of the Boathouse. The Shea Rowing Center includes state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, such as a new rowing tank, larger locker and shower rooms, better heat and ventilation systems and improved handicap access, as well as offices and weight training areas. Additional launches, dockage and boat racks also will be installed.

"We are deeply grateful to Mrs. Shea for this generous gift," said then-Princeton President Harold T. Shapiro. "Bernard Shea was himself an enthusiastic oarsman at Princeton, and generations of Princeton rowers will remember him and benefit from this tribute to his memory."

When boating sports began at Princeton, the team practiced on the nearby Delaware and Raritan Canal - a difficult process since the canal still had a steady stream of commercial traffic. It was not until 1906 that Andrew Carnegie, from the Sheas' hometown of Pittsburgh, funded the construction of a dam, creating what is now called Carnegie Lake. Having the lake for both practices and competitions greatly strengthened the University's rowing program, which grew continuously in strength and variety.

"I have wonderful memories of returning to campus with my husband in the 1950s to watch the crew races," said Mrs. Shea, "and it is especially meaningful to me to help the many students who love rowing and Princeton, just as my husband did."

Mr. Shea, who died in 1961, served with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps during World War I and was vice president and director of the Joseph Horne Co. of Pittsburgh. A member of the Graduate Council of Princeton University, he was a director and trustee of many charitable institutions, including Shadyside Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Fairview Hospital of Great Barrington, Mass.

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