Butler Boathouse

Boating activities at Wellesley College take place at the newly renovated Butler Boathouse on Lake Waban, providing access to canoes, paddleboats, sailboats, and kayaks. Students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and their guests are welcome to participate in Open Boathouse hours during the designated times. The Boathouse is also home to Wellesley's historic Dorm Crew and Class Crew classes.

The Butler Boathouse is closed for Winter - Check back in after Spring Break for our Spring 2024 hours.

Please be advised that there is no swimming permitted from the small beach or docks at the Butler Boathouse.

About the Butler Boathouse

Thanks to the generosity of Alice Lehmann Butler ’53 and her husband, John, the boathouse on Lake Waban has undergone a comprehensive renovation to update and upgrade a facility used by Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics.

Alice Butler was an avid member of her dorm crew, and she and her husband are lifelong fitness enthusiasts. Their gift fully enabled a much-needed renovation to the structure, increasing campus-wide recreational opportunities and supporting other PERA initiatives as well.

The 2015 renovation made the Boathouse more appealing and accessible, creating a new main entry, a "quarterdeck" class/meeting room, improved shop space, two restrooms, canoe/kayak room, and storage. The project also improved the areas surrounding the site, addressing soil erosion and drainage issues. 

Recreational boating is open to all Wellesley College students/faculty/staff/alumni with a Wellesley ID. Participants are required to sign a waiver and are able to take out canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and sailboats. A light wind certification or approval from Wellesley sailing instructor is required to take out sailboats.  For Recreational boating, one guest can be admitted per Wellesley ID.  

Wind Ratings 

Light Wind Rating. Required to use a sail boat during recreational hours in light winds. Test: Written test on terminology; demonstration of knowledge of basic knots, rigging a boat, sailing a short course and landing boat satisfactorily. A crew is optional.

Heavy Wind Rating. Required to sail a boat during recreational hours in a wind over 10 knots. Test: Some dinghy racing experience on or off campus required. Demonstration of ability to handle Tech dinghy in winds over 10 knots. Email for testing options. 

Dorm and Class Crew

Is a long standing tradition at Wellesley College. Students may earn 2 physical education credits by practicing for and participating in the Dorm and Class Crew Regatta at the end of the Term. The program will only be offered in the fall during Term 1. Dorm and Class Crew registration will be during course registration on Work Day.  

If you have questions about the facility, please direct your questions to Ann Dwyer, Associate Director for Facilities & Operations, KSC 247, 781.283.2002 or

Use Outside Open Boathouse Hours

We are not offering private rentals for student groups at this time. However, feel free to organize your group to attend Open Boathouse hours. Group gatherings at Open Boathouse hours will be at no cost to your program, but there may be participant limits due to lifeguard staffing requirements. Please email with any questions, or to let us know that you and your group plan to attend.