The White Rock Boathouse facilities include three buildings on the southwest shore of White Rock Lake. All of our facilities have been leased from the city and are managed, maintained and administered by the staff and board of White Rock Boathouse, Inc. These facilities give the People of Dallas access to White Rock Lake for year-round recreation and social outings.
We owe a debt of gratitude to John Mullen, Sam Leake, John Payne, Chip Northrup and David Young for their tremendous contribution to White Rock Boathouse.
Sam S. Leake Boathouse
Since the completion of our renovations of the Filter Building and sedimentation tanks in August 2008, our main operations have been moved to the Sam Leake Boathouse. The new boathouse is 300 feet by 75 feet and currently houses over 119 boats in three separate bays. This facility is now home to 3 different programs, White Rock Rowing, Southern Methodist University's Women's Team, Jesuit Crew, White Rock Rowing Juniors, White Rock Rowing Masters, and WRR Adaptive and Veterans programs. All of these programs work together to maintain the boathouse and grounds and work to grow rowing within Dallas and the state of Texas.
The Boomerang is the beautiful 1930’s era boathouse at T & P Hill at White Rock Lake. The organization has restored the boathouse for rowing scull storage and launching. The Boomerang was home to all White Rock Boathouse operations 2004 - 2008. The building houses all of the recreational boats for the club, private boats and all of the launches that are used by the programs that row out of the new boathouse across the cove. This is the primary staging area for the recreational rowing. It is also where the Boathouse provides kayak and canoe storage.
The Filter Building
Atop the southwest shore of White Rock Lake, the historic Filter Building has beautiful terraces and sweeping views that take your breath away. John Mullen's renovation plans preserved the urban industrial style of the 1920’s; the Filter Building features exposed red brick walls, original iron trusses, and many windows overlooking White Rock Lake. The Filter Building serves as rented events building for the organization as well as our offices. The Filter Building is a perfect site for weddings, business meetings, reunions, parties and more.
White Rock Boathouse (WRB), Inc is proud to be a part of the latest chapter in a history of boating on White Rock Lake that dates back some 70 years, with the building of the original Art Deco facility at T&P Hill in 1930, now part of White Rock Boathouse, Inc.
- The modern era of rowing on White Rock Lake started in 1980 with the formation of the Dallas Rowing Club (DRC); however, it had trouble getting established at White Rock and was disbanded in 1982. John Mullen (one of the eventual founders of WRB) restarted DRC in 1983 on nearby Bachman Lake, where it continues to be very successful organization. John brought rowing back to White Rock in the late ‘80s with a number of regattas for high school and college crews. In the late ‘90s, Southern Methodist University’s women’s crew began rowing on White Rock, based out of the Bathhouse.
- In 2003 John Mullen, Sam Leake, John Payne, Chip Northrup, and David Young conceived the idea of bringing rowing back to White Rock Lake by founding a new club. Before an oar even hit the water, the mission of the future club was established: to make rowing accessible to the citizens—in particular, the youth—of the City of Dallas. In 2003, White Rock Boathouse, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created to make this mission a reality.
- In 2004, by agreement with the City of Dallas, WRB, Inc. took on the challenge of reclaiming and renovating the new club’s home: the original White Rock Boathouse (now nicknamed the “Boomerang”). The once-fine facility had been largely abandoned and suffered from degradation and neglect – gang tags and drug paraphernalia were common sights. Thanks to WRB’s efforts, however, the building was restored to use, and the environment and safety of the entire T&P Hill recreational area have dramatically improved.
- Over the next couple of years, numerous novice rowers received lessons from volunteer club instructors, and the seeds of the WRB’s future junior program were sown. With that growth in mind, the WRB’s leadership began to plan for the club’s next iteration and a larger, modern facility to support it.
- In 2007, largely through John Mullens efforts, WRB, Inc., raised $2.5 million in contributed funds to build a new boathouse and parking area next to the abandoned Dallas Water Utilities Filter Building, leveraging its old sedimentation basins, which had also been forgotten and subjected to vandalism. The new Sam Leake Boathouse (SLB) opened its doors in August 2008.
- At the SLB, the club sponsors provided rowing instruction via the White Rock Juniors Rowing program for Dallas-area high school and middle-school students, and the White Rock Masters Rowing program, open to all adults age 18 and over. WRB has an active para-rowing (differently abled athletes) and veterans rowing program relocated here from the Bathhouse and space is leased to the rowing program at Jesuit College Prep High School and SMU.
- The Filter Building, previously useless and abandoned, has been renovated to historic buildings standards. With John Mullen's renovation plans the “adaptive reuse” of the Filter Building and SLB has received design recognition from the American Institute of Architects, Preservation Dallas and the Texas Historic Commission. John had the insight to include the abandon Filter Building in the White Rock Boathouse project. The Filter Building is available for lease and enjoyment by the public for meetings, parties, and weddings. A portion of the proceeds goes to the City of Dallas Parks Department to support their programs at White Rock Lake. Remaining revenues contribute to facility maintenance, a full-time coaching staff for WR Junior Program and, most importantly, financial assistance to junior rowers. Due to the support of the Filter Building our youth rowers pay approximately half the costs necessary to support each athlete. In addition, direct financial aid is provided to those who need further assistance. Finally, at the end of the spring season, one or two rowers is provided the John & Anne Mullen Scholarship, which grants $1000 per athlete.
- In summary, WRB Inc. began a mission in 2003 to bring rowing to the citizens and youth of the City of Dallas. By self-financing the renovation of the old White Rock Boathouse and Filter Building, and constructing the new Big Boathouse, WRB has contributed substantially to the public's use and enjoyment of the jewel of Dallas--White Rock Lake.