The Katie, a 55 foot long, sweep-style, eight person racing shell, was installed above the reference collection in June 2013. The Katie was used by the crew team at Milwaukee-Downer College beginning in 1938 until around 1964. She was manufactured by the Williams Racing Shell Boat Yard in Massachusetts, and was named after Katherine Specht, a Milwaukee-Downer instructor in physical education. When Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer consolidated in 1964, Lawrence decided not to have the shell transported to Appleton.
In the recent past, the Katie was discovered in the loft of a barn. Will Evans '13, crew team member and Milwaukee-Downer history enthusiast, found a listing for an antique racing shell on a website. Upon further inquiry, he discovered that this was formerly owned by Milwaukee-Downer College. After being contacted by the Lawrence Alumni Office, a group of Milwaukee-Downer alumnae raised funds to have her restored. Upon restoration, it was decided that the boat should be displayed somewhere on the Lawrence University campus. The already existing Milwaukee-Downer Room and high ceilings made the library the best choice to display the Katie.
Since the 1964 consolidation, Lawrence University has housed a variety of artifacts from Milwaukee-Downer College. Some well-known examples are the Teakwood Room in the Hurvis Center (formerly Downer Commons) and the handsome grandfather clocks in the library. For historical photos of the Milwaukee-Downer crew team, see our digital archives. For more information about the consolidation, see the Lawrence History page.
Read the news release: "Rescued: A Student’s Curiosity Helps Bring Long-Lost Rowing Shell “Home”"
For images from the installation of the Katie, see our photo set.