On a summer evening in 1887, C. Howard Schemerhorn (who later became Commodore of the Ocean City Yacht Club from 1904-07) and others met with intent of finding a place where, "They could keep their boats in safety and not be compelled on Low Tide to wade out in the mud to get their boats." - Yacht Club Log Book-April 1916.
A location was found between 11th & 12th Street on Pleasure Ave. The name 12th Boat Club "was agreed upon and a boathouse built 65' long, 20" wide."
Family picnics were popular in those days, and two or three families would unite in a joint outing, fishing and clamming from the club. This location was the center of boating life in Ocean City. On a nice day, large crowds would gather at the foot of 12th Street. The club founders held the title to an undivided interest in the club property, and as owners died or moved away, the property fell into disuse and decay. When a storm destroyed the dock and washed the building offs its foundation, the club never recovered.
A certificate of Incorporation of the Ocean City Yacht Club was approved by Andrew C. Boswell, Master in Chancery of New Jersey on June 27, 1901.
The purpose of the club set forth in the Articles of Incorporation, was "to encourage and promote yachting on Great Egg Harbor Bay and the waters adjacent and to erect, build and maintain a boat house, wharfs, and buildings." The first clubhouse was located 6th and Bay Ave.
One June 13th, 1912, the cornerstone of the "Grand Dame Club House" was laid. Past Commodore Harry J.J. Bellwoar Jr. described "this fine old building" and the history around it. "What a wonderful job those oldsters did! Men like John Fite, Charles Curran, Gus Schemerhorn, Ollie Zuan and others whose name I have forgotten, were not only past Commodores but also past masters at yacht-club building. The building was four stories high, with wide verandas around each floor. The first or ground floor was off limits to females. It contained a large billiard room, with an open fireplace, spar room, very large shower room, individual lockers and of course, a "lee rail" where tales of many varieties were spun and where chaps like Ewing Cohen, Arthur Boyer, Bill McCann, George Derby, Ed Beale, Walt Jennings and Joe Leo used to hold forth."
"A wide, flaring staircase approached the second floor on the North & South side. The foyer, with its Persian Oriental rugs and its many Trophy cases was something to behold! On this floor there were also the Board meeting room, a very large dining room, complete kitchen (I mean complete) and the Marine Grille. It was in the Marine Grille that the members gathered Saturday Night to dance, chat and pass a pleasant evening.
On the third floor was a ballroom where Junior Members held their weekly Saturday Night dances, Commodore George Kranich's orchestra used to play for those dances under the name "George Craig and his Merry Music Makers."
"The fourth floor had twelve bedrooms and baths, and in a special section, sleeping quarters for the Port Captain, dock boys, and kitchen help."
At the time of construction, a mortgage of $10,000 was created to secure the necessary funds. This mortgage was insured by the issuance of what was known as "First Mortgage Five-Percent Bonds." By their terms, they were due and payable September 1932, a difficult year to say the least. The Club continued to function even through a 1937 Reorganization, but nature won the last race, forcing its demise.
September of 1944 brought one of the worst hurricanes to Ocean City and the Old Yacht Club building was one of its victims. From the concrete floor on the ground to the wooden shingles on the roof, it was truly wrecked. World War II was on and there was no material or manpower to repair or replace the damaged structure. It was ordered torn down.
For several years after 1944, we had no clubhouse at all. Then in 1947 a new one-story structure, sometimes called the "Gas-Station Clubhouse", was built. By 1953 this building was expanded by the addition of a glass-enclosed porch facing the bay. All of this was paid for prior to the beginning of construction.
In 1957, feeling the pressure of its expanding sailboat fleets, the club acquired the triangular piece of ground which is still used today for the storage of sailboats.
Beginning in 1964 through 1967, Past Commodores Frank G. Felton, G. Frederick Rexon, and Lawrence E. Pilot, Jr. undertook the planning and development of substantial improvements to the club building. Architect Leon Clemmer designed a new, two-story bay front - all glass addition with an adjoining tower. The "tower ladies" overlooked the progress of sailboat races for many years.
The renovations incorporated many features which helped make the club more functional. Additional space was created for the ever-increasing membership. The new facility with its cathedral design included air conditioning, acoustics, kitchen facilities, junior room, Board of Governors meeting room, and a screened porch.
In 1992 long-time member and architect, Mark Asher, completed the design for a second floor and a major facelift of the club facility. Past Commodores Philip J. Kolea, Carl A. Posse, and Joseph R. Flesher brought this plan to life. This new building is ideal for our current needs and we all hope it will last for the next 100 years!