Some old photos
The Club was established in the years before 1865. Because of the loyalty of the members of the Williamsburgh Yacht Club and its pride in the U.S.A, it has sent many members and some of its boats into the armed services, during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War and the Vietnam War. We, the members of the Williamsburgh Yacht Club, have reason to be proud of the experience gained in yachting on the waters of New York.
The Club was organized by a number of old yachtsmen who used to assemble at the Penny Bridge on Newtown Creek. In the 1860′s – 1870′s the yachts from this organization were laid up for the winter at the Boatmen’s Headquarters at the old Penny Bridge.
On the 11th day of April, 1865, “an act for incorporation of societies and clubs for certain social and recreational purposes” was passed by the members of the Williamsburgh Yacht Club at the regular monthly meeting.
On May 25, 1869, the Daylight Oil Refinery on Newtown Creek, west of Vernon Avenue, went up in flames, spreading to the adjacent Devoe-Pratt refinery. The voracious flames devoured three barges, two lighters and, a bridge. Had it not been for the heroic efforts of the Brooklyn fire companies, it would have consumed the drawbridges over the creek as well. The loss was put at $800,000.00.
On April 5, 1871 a Certificate of Incorporation for the Williamsburgh Yacht Club Of The City Of Brooklyn was signed and sealed by Arthur Bassett, Thomas Eames, L. Frederick Meyerricks, William F. Robinson, William Westerfied, William H. Rexter, Herman Ranken, Joseph Northup, William Sware, William B. Allen, Cornelius Conner, and was notarized by Adolph Getting, of the County of Kings on that day. These men are the charter members of the Club.
The Williamsburgh Yacht Club was incorporated on April 5, 1871, under the Laws of the State of New York. The first Commodore was L.F. Meyerricks, who was succeeded in the following year by William Rexter. The latter found an old scow on the beach at Pattern’s Hill. The Club brought this ashore and built a house upon it in their leisure hours.
Among the first yachts to fly the W. Y. C. burgee were many of the fastest sloops of the days. They were the JEANETTE, SORCERESS, KATE BULGER, EUELINE, ANNIE MARSHAL, LURLINE, ANNIE, J.M.CONWAY, NETTIE, J.N.LAUTHIER, and VICTORESS.
The first real clubhouse built was at the foot of Eagle Street, Greenpoint, Bklyn, off what was then known as Pottery Beach, a popular bathing spot in those days. This new club house was of generous proportions, was well kept and combined all necessary conveniences.
Professional boat racing took place on this creek between the Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Meeker Avenue Bridge. At the mouth of the creek and running south was Pottery beach, above the high ground was Pottery Hill. From there, spectators would watch the start of the yacht races conducted by the Williamsburgh Yacht Club and the East River Yacht Clubs. The yearly regattas of the Club consisted of sailing a race course starting off the club house through Hell Gate, before Flood Rock was blown up. (Hell Gate at that time contained many obstructions) past North and South Brother Islands. It continued around Stepping Stone Light House for the smaller boats and Gangway Buoy for the larger boats. It sometimes took the better part of a day to complete these courses. The club would hire a steamer to carry guests to follow the yachts.
In 1886, William Steinway and some of his friends decided to build a pleasure resort on the shores of Bowery Bay. In 1887, the resort opened, known as Bowery Bay Beach. The name was changed to North Beach in 1891. North Beach became Glen Curtis Airport, and later became La Guardia Airport.
In 1887, through the efforts of William Steinway and George Ehret, who were members of the Club, the Club was moved to the foot of Steinway Avenue, Bowery Bay L.I. The Club site was in the Steinway Works near Komwenhoven Street. Due to the poor transportation facilities, the Club lay dormant for a while. Under the administration of Commodore A.I. Brush, it had its first regatta in a number of years. A steamer was chartered to convey the friends of the yachtsmen over the course. With the opening of Bowery Bay and the introduction of more modern conveyances, the prospects of the Club became brighter.
In 1896, a committee was appointed, and, after looking at several sites, North Beach, on Flushing Bay, was considered to be the most desirable. The old club house having braved the winds and storms for over twenty years was now declared to be inadequate to the demands of the members. A fair offer was made by the Daimler Motor Company. The members accepted the offer, and plans for a new club house to be built on the North Beach site was rapidly agreed on. The season being well advanced, the Club for a time was homeless, but thanks to the efforts of Commodore James Schuessele and Secretary William Martin, with the assistance of Joe Northup, a handsome club house was erected in less than two months. The new site was in the “Seitz’s Brooklyn City Park”, on North Beach, Flushing Bay anchorage, L.I. This building, sixty feet long by twenty-five feet wide and modern in every way, was well adapted for the purposes intended. The lower part of the house was devoted to Club lockers, fifty-seven in number, janitor’s quarters, a spacious ice box, toilet and storage rooms. On the second floor was a meeting and lounging room with a handsome mahogany buffet and cafe divided off. Broad balconies adorned the front of the building. The completion of the house marked a new era in the Club’s history. To celebrate the event, class races were held and the house was thronged with visitors. Enthusiasm ran high among the members and the membership immediately took an upward growth.
Under Commodore Louis Raves administration, the first Ladies Day Regatta in the U.S. took place in 1898. Aquatic games in which handsome souvenirs were awarded to the winners, helped to make these events popular. Under Commodore William E. Kells and Secretary Henry Schneider, the Portia – Gypsy match race took place. The contest was for one hundred dollars a side, and the Portia, owned by Vice-Commodore Fennell, was the favorite. After two trials, contrary to expectations, the Gypsy, after a close race, finished first. On Nov. 27, l898 there was a severe blizzard wrecking several yachts.
In 1900, upon his elevation to the Commodore’s chair, Vice Commodore L.W. Rice’s first work was to renew the building proposition. Before the season was opened a handsome new addition was built, making the club house thirty feet longer, allowing more space in the assembly rooms in the upper part, while in the lower part twenty-five new lockers, additional janitor’s quarters, steward’s room, etc., was added, making this one of the finest club houses in the U.S.
In 1902, the yacht Pearl, from the Williamsburgh Yacht Club was the first winner of the Sechuessele Cup.
In 1903, the winter headquarters of the Club was at William Schwartz Hotel, 977 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn. The annual ball was held at the Knickerbacker Hall, 165 Clymer Street, between. Lee and Bedford Avenues, Brooklyn, on March.7, 1903. The club house at North Beach was easily accessible by different ferries and electric cars. There were 80 lockers distinct from the club house. Janitors were provided to care for the yachts and to dry sails. The Club provided a 500 foot long lot for repairs and storage of yachts. The club also provided meals and hotel accommodations. Membership was divided in two classes, Active and Passive.
On Feb.12, 1915, the Club held a Ball at the Central Opera House in New York City. This ball was a success both socially as will as financially. The Club was a member of the Waterway League.
In February 1916, the North Beach Imp. Co. increased the rent for the ground approaches to the club house. In March 1916, the membership of the Club having grown to such an extent, and because of the increasing activities of the club, a telephone was installed.
In 1920, under Commodore John C. Fisher and Capt. Grossbohlin, who were chairmen of the 50th anniversary committee, festivities were held on April 10, 1920 at Fritz’s Hotel, in Maspeth, L.I. The road from the Club to the Trolley was covered with cinders so as to prevent damage to member’s autombiles.
In 1922, through the efforts of Capt. Lutz, a pool table was acquired and the club house was wired for electricity.
In December 1924, a Committee was appointed to secure new quarters. The chairman of this committee was A.D.Clawson.
In May of 1926 the annual dinner was held at the Fellowcraft Club at College Point.
The property on which the Club was located was sold, and the Club moved on August 22, 1928, across the Bay to a location on College Point near the Flushing Boat Club. In 1928, the Central Park Model Yacht Club was duly elected into membership of the Williamsburg Yacht Club. The regatta for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Cup was held and won on the waters in front of the Williamsburg Yacht Club.
On July 8, 1934, the Flushing Boat Club sold the property at 118-08 29th Ave. to the Williamsburgh Boat Club for the sum of $2,000.00.
On Sept.21, 1938, a hurricane caused considerable damage and completely wrecked the Club’s runway. The members constructed a new runway.
The Club was the 1939 World Fair’s flag yacht club. Aug.20, 1939 was the Ladies Day Regatta. The program included rowboat races, sailboat races, speedboat races, cruiser race handicap, swimming races, watermelon races, get-a-way race cruiser, dancing and refreshments.
On November 1, 1939, the Williamsburgh Boat Club sold the property at 118-08 29 Ave. to the Williamsburgh Yacht Club for the sum of $2,000.00. The annual dinner was at Steinway Lodge at the foot of Steinway Street, on February 25, 1939.
An important activity of the Club in the years between 1939 and 1966 has been the improvement of the facilities. Creation of the Fo’c’s’le took place in 1946. Non-interest-bearing bonds were issued to finance shingling the exterior of the House in 1947. The beginning of the bulkhead and fill under house occurred in 1947 and the laying of the hardwood floor in 1950. The closing in of the upper porch took place in 1952 and 1953. The adding of two floats and some new pilings were in 1955; the erection of the steel Flag pole, 1956; the building of the brick entrance and new Fo’c’s’le in 1957; the pouring of the concrete foundation on north side of building and ramp at end of street for launching small boats in 1958; the new roof of plywood and shingles in 1960; the remodeling of the entrance hall in 1961; the rebuilding of the runway deck in 1962 and 1963; the redecorating and remodeling of the meeting hall in 1964; the continuation of the foundation along the east side of the building in 1965 and 1966, and at present, we are preparing for our 100th Anniversary.
On November 27, 1988 at about 4 a.m. the Clubhouse was totally destroyed by fire.
In June of 1990 construction of the new club house was started on the site of the old club house. The New House Construction Committee consisted of committee Chairman Commodore John Dallara, Vice CommodoreMark Kostron, Board of Trustees Chairman Paul Zaluski, Rear Commodore Raymond Wilson, Financial-Secretary Michael Lepine, Sergeant-At-Arms Kim Cody, Fo’c’s’le Chairman Thomas Reardon, Chairman of the Historical Committee Robert Zanetti and Recording & Corresponding Secretary Charles Favreau.
In 1991, the Club opened its member rolls for new members for the first time since the disastrous fire that destroyed the club house. A total of six new members were accepted as the Club began to re-build itself. Reconstruction continued on the house and the deck was finished, including a protective safety railing.
After the construction of he club house was completed, it was decided by the members that a dock and slip assembly should be added to meet the changing needs of the members and to be an added incentive to attract prospective members. It took a year to obtain all the necessary permits, but by May 1993 the first phase of construction was completed, and there was room for 26 boats to be berthed.
In June 1993 an official temporary certificate of occupancy was issued by NYC, enabling the Club to resume full activities. An application for a Club liquor license was made shortly thereafter.
A ribbon cutting ceremony and grand re-opening was held on September 11, 1993 at 3:00 pm. Other Yacht Clubs and dignitaries such as Councilman Mike Abel, N.Y State Senator Frank Padavan, Assembly Woman Netty Mayerson, and President of the Businessman’s Association Fred Mazarello and his wife Helen, were among the 120 guests and members present.
During the spring of 1994, with Thomas Reardon as Commodore, the members constructed a new main float to replace the 42 foot float at the end of the ramp.
April 1995 marked the beginning of the 125th year of incorporation and the 130th year of existence.
The occasion was marked by a celebration which included the recognition of the loyalty and contributions of three of the members. James Herlich, a member since 1959, who served as Commodore nine times, Rolf Dieckmann, who joined in 1946, and has served as Chairman of various Committees, and Admiral Joe Haug, a past Commodore, who has been a member since 1937. As well as a year of celebration, 1995 was also a year of sadness with the Passing of Junior Past Commodore James Herlich. He will be missed.
Paul Izzo served as Commodore in 1996 and 1997. During that time, emphasis was put on building the camaraderie and the social activities of the Club, as well as strengthening ties with the other Yacht Clubs. We became active in the Commodore’s Association again, enabling us to share information that is of concern to everyone who values access to the waterways, and enjoyment of boating in all its forms.
From 1998 through 2000 Mark Kostron served as Commodore and his term found the Club achieving financial stability. The next goal of the Club was to increase membership.
In 2001, Stephen Addelson took over as Commodore. Soon after assuming office he began the process of acquiring permits and financing to install attenuators on the north and west, to protect the dock assembly from severe weather. Additional slips, some of which were larger and able to accommodate vessels with wide beams were also to be part of the plan. In the mean time, he went about making improvements to the club house. He installed an accordion dividing door and used the newly created front area to install a new larger bar, with up to date amenities. The back room became an area that could be closed off for members to rent for private parties, or it could serve as a Club meeting area. With the door open the bar area and the room could be used for large club parties. The bathrooms received new tile and the entire club house got a fresh coat of paint. The attenuators and slips were installed in 2004.
In 2006 Brendan Dolan became Commodore. That year the Club celebrated the 60th anniversary of membership of our oldest member Rolf Dieckmann. Rolf was serving as Historian and Chaplain at that time.
The following year Steve Addelson became Commodore again and served for the next six years. He became the longest serving Commodore, having surpassed the nine years served by James Herlich. During this period as Commodore, new motorized security gates were installed, and a canopy with a removable enclosure at the main entry provided the members with protection from the weather as they entered the Club. The kitchen was updated with tile and a new stove. Wood pilings were replaced with steel, and a courtesy dock was positioned to aid in the launching of boats. WYC now offers space for Jet Skis. The deck was enlarged and affords ample space for summer fun. Unfortunately, 2012 saw the passing of our oldest member Rolf Dieckmann. He not only held various offices, but served continuously on the Board since 1988. He will be missed and we all wish him safe harbor.
In 2013, Mark Kostron was elected Commodore. Changes in security requirements, the implementation and use of modern technology for record keeping and communication, as well as the numerous amendments that had been made to the By-laws since 1988, made it apparent that a revision of those By-laws was necessary. Richard Senison volunteered to transcribe the book into an editable form. A committee consisting of Elaine Bauer, Dave Schelin and Josephine O’Grady volunteered to make the revisions.
Personal and work commitments made it necessary for Mark to remove his name as the only nominee for Commodore just before the 2014 elections. A special election was held and John Rice was unanimously elected Commodore. The future looks bright, both financially and socially. The members are enjoying every aspect of the Club. There are spontaneous deck parties in addition to the scheduled calendar of events. There is hope that the tradition of WYC Yacht racing will begin again, with one of our members hoping to represent the Club this fall in a race to be hosted by the Douglaston Yacht Club. We look forward to a bright future and celebrating our 150th anniversary in 2015.
The historic Williamsburgh Yacht Club continues to grow and as of 1990, the Club is a member of the following organizations:
Long Island sound Commodore’s Association
Yachting Club of America
Joint Community Council of College Point
New York Coastal Fisherman’s Association Inc.
National Autobon Society