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The beauty of boathouses

Photos by Matt Haas

 June 2014

Oconomowoc Lake

Most lakes in the area have at least a few historic "wet" boathouses that reside on the shore. Boathouses that were completely or partially built below the ordinary high water mark are called wet boathouses.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources prohibited the construction of these boathouses in 1979, saying the structures were impeding public use of the waterways.

Beaver Lake

Boathouse owners are allowed to remodel existing structures with the proper permits from the DNR. "Now we regulate the maintenance of those structures that were built prior to 1979," says Geri Radermacher, water management specialist with the DNR.

Prior to 2012, repairs to a boathouse could not exceed 50 percent of its value. That restriction was lifted in 2012, but there are still stipulations on what can be done to these existing structures no expanded footprint, no change in the roofline and no added living quarters, to name a few.

It appears the heyday of wet boathouse construction in the Lake Country area took place between the 1920s and 1940s.



This story ran in the June 2014 issue of: