The Dolphin Club, in cooperation with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, maintains this facility to accomodate it program of open water swimming and rowing in San Francisco Bay.
It was founded in 1877 as a small boat club at the water's edge at Bay and Leavenworth. In 1895 it moved into a new boathouse, now a portion of this building, at the foot of Van Ness. In 1938 it was moved, along with its neighbor the South End Rowing Club, to its present location, to make room for the Maritime Museum building. Throughout their history these clubs' activities have been instrumental in Aquatic Park as an active recreation area amid the city's press of modern urban growth.
Originally the Dolphin Club had twenty-five male members. Since 1976, it has included women members and, with its open membership policy, by 1989 membership has grown to over 800.
Since its founding, Dolphin Club members have built, used and maintained a fleet of traditional wooden rowing craft, passing the required skills among each other, while enjoying the adventure of rowing on the Bay.
In addition to providing access to swimming at Aquatic Park, the Dolphin Club sponsors for its members an annual race across the Golden Gate and other swims between landmark locations in the Bay.