The ASUW Shell House is home of the famous “Boys in the Boat” and an icon of rowing and UW history. However, this building has a much deeper history according to HistoryLink. Below are a few of the stories that the Shell House brings together.


Known as “Carry a Canoe” in Lushootseed, stəx̌ʷugʷit (stukh-ug-weelth) for 8,000 years by the Lake Washington People, a natural portage that was used by families and tribes. This location is identified in the Waterlines Project Map documented by the Burke Museum.

The past and present will merge and overlap as the original waterlines are marked in landscape design and canoe journey culture will be taught and celebrated within.

Image of a the waterlines project map

The Waterlines Project mapBurke Museum


An aerial photograph of the naval training station

Aerial view of naval training station, summer or later 1918University of Washington Archives

Photograph of an airplane hangar interior

Hangar interior photographed between September 1918 and January 1919. Burgess U-2 left, HS-1L rightMuseum of History and Industry

Built by Navy Captain Luther E. Gregory one year after the completion of the Montlake Cut in 1918, the Shell House was used to store seaplanes and train pilots during the final months of World War I. At the time, the UW campus was the site of a massive Naval training camp headed by Commander Miller Freeman.

Learn more about the Naval history of the Shell House in these articles provided by Lee Corbin:


One of the only two surviving wood hangars from WWI, and the only one to house seaplanes.


Photograph of the 1936 mens rowing team

The 1936 mens rowing team standing on the apron of the Shell HouseUniversity of Washington Archives

Home of the legendary 1936 crew, and shell builder and innovator, George Pocock; original home of Lake Washington Rowing Club, and the resurgence of UW Women’s Rowing in 1969.

George Pocock was also an accomplished speedboat builder! Read about his endeavors in building some of the fastest speedboats in the Northwest in this article by Lee Corbin.



A photograph of the Shell House National Register of Historic Places plaque

“The Old Shell House” – the National Register of Historic Places plaque for the Shell HouseUniversity of Washington Archives

The Shell House was the first UW building to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places (1975 as Old Canoe House), and the first UW building to become a Seattle Landmark (2018). Read about our historical marker, officially placing the Shell House on the National Register of Historical Places.

This 1929 article from The Athletic describe the then-brand-new ASUW athletic facilities, which included a stadium and the ASUW Shell House.

To learn more about the ASUW Shell House, check out the HistoryLink piece that details the rich history of this incredible building.

The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish people of the lands and waters where the ASUW Shell House rests — land that touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.