622 E. Gorham St. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

622 E. Gorham St.

National or State Register of Historic Places
622 E. Gorham St. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Bernard-Hoover Boathouse
Reference Number:81000036
Location (Address):622 E. Gorham St.
Bernard-Hoover Boathouse
622 East Gorham Street, Madison, Dane County
Built: 1915

The Bernard-Hoover Boathouse is located in James Madison Park on the shores of Lake Mendota, the last extant building that represents the once-ubiquitous commercial boating industry in Madison. The exterior of the boathouse remains largely unchanged, with four large garage doors facing the lake on the first floor, used for boat storage and offices, and a residential unit and storage on the second floor.

German immigrant Charles Bernard began his fishing business at this site in 1855 and over time extended his operations into boat livery and pleasure cruises. In addition to building the steamboats that they operated, Bernard and his sons provided recreational excursions for tourists to resorts on other parts of the lake. They took further advantage of this market by buying land on the northeast shore of the lake in Woodward’s Grove and opening Bernard’s Pleasure Park, which featured picnic grounds, a refreshment stand, and a large dancing pavilion. At their peak, the Bernards operated six pleasure boats at one time.

The Bernard family owned and operated the boathouse until 1940, by which time automobiles had significantly cut down on their business. In 1943, the boats and boathouse was bought by Harry Hoover, who operated the business until 1968, when it was bought by the city of Madison to enlarge James Madison Park.

Now owned by the Mendota Rowing Club, the Bernard-Hoover Boathouse is a reminder of the boating industry in Madison, when people were dependent on the lakes for travel as well recreation.

Area of Significance:Entertainment/Recreation
Applicable Criteria:Event
Historic Use:Recreation And Culture: Sport Facility
Historic Use:Commerce/Trade: Warehouse
Historic Use:Transportation: Water-Related
Historic Use:Recreation And Culture: Outdoor Recreation
Resource Type:Building
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:07/30/1981
State Register Listing Date:01/01/1989
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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