Central Park New Deal Sites - Photo #55 - Model Boat House

The Model Boathouse on Conservatory Lake in Central Park, July 2015. "His [Moses'] force of relief workers constructed a new model-boat house at the Conservatory Water"[1]. But the one in the photo is not the New Deal one; the same book says "In the 1950s other donations replaced old wooden boathouse at 72nd Street, the frame model boathouse at the Conservatory Water, and the burned-out Carousel with the new brick Loeb and Kerbs boathouses and the Friedsam Carousel[1,p.485]. This is confirmed by the Central Park Conservancy[2].

Model Boathouse about 1900
Early 1900s with Temple Beth-El
Model Boathouse about 1900
After 1947 - no Temple Beth-El
The Model Boathouse is at 74th Street on The Lake and the Loeb Boathouse is at 75th Street on the Conservancy Water. According to the Central Park Conservancy[3] the original Lake Boathouse was built in 1874 from a design by Calvert Vaux, but was torn down and replaced by the Loeb boathouse in the 1950s. Meanwhile old photos (left) from the Central Park Model Yacht Club[4] show a very small building, built somewhere between 1896 and 1916[5], on the exact site where the present Kerbs Boathouse stands, that was still standing after 1947 (when Temple Beth-El was demolished, and well after the New Deal), which seems to contradict reference [1].

Apparently Reference 2, which says the boathouse was built in 1954, is correct; this is confirmed by References 6 and 7. So the Model Boathouse is not a New Deal project after all.

  1. Rosenzweig, Roy, and Elizabeth Blackmar, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, Cornell University Press (1992), p.451.
  2. Kerbs Boathouse, Central Park Conservancy website, accessed 1 November 2019.
  3. Loeb Boathouse, Central Park Conservancy website, accessed 1 November 2019.
  4. Pre-1950 Historic Photos, Central Park Model Yacht Club website, accessed 1 November 2019.
  5. History of Central Park Model Yacht Club, Central Park Model Yacht Club website, accessed 1 November 2019.
  6. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, "Robert Moses and the Transformation of Central Park", SiteLINES: A Journal of Place, Vol.3 No.1 (Fall 2007), p.5: "In 1954, when Jeanne Kerbs, who lived in an apartment house overlooking the Conservatory Water near Fifth Avenueat 74th Street, wished to memorialize her parents, Moses solicited her donation for the construction of a boathouse for model yachts. Relatively small in scale, this typical Moses building has brick walls with limestone quoins and a steeply pitched, gently curving hip roof of copper crowned with a tall, thin, ornamental cupola."
  7. Building of the Day, 15 February 2012, brownstoner.com, an article about some other building names John Louis Wilson, Jr., as the architect of the Kerbs boathouse. Wilson also designed the Harlem River Houses, NYC's first federally funded housing project, under FDRs New Deal, in 1936.