NYYC's First Clubhouse 1845


history5By Michael Levitt, communications director NYYC

George M. Isdale Jr., commodore of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC), announced on December 18th, 1999, that the first clubhouse, built in 1845, has arrived at Newport, RI. The building, described in historical records as "a little edifice in the gingerbread style of the period," is today situated on the club's Harbour Court property.

The clubhouse, about 47 feet by 21, was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis. It was originally located across the Hudson River from Manhattan in Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, NJ. This was on property owned by Commodore John Cox Stevens, founder of the NYYC. The first meeting took place there on July 15, 1845, less than a year after the club's beginnings. From there, the yacht America departed for England in 1851 where it won a trophy that came to be called the America's Cup. The building served the membership until 1868, when the club relocated to Staten Island. The Hoboken property is now the Stevens Institute of Technology, endowed by the Stevens family. Since 1901, the NYYC has had its headquarters on Manhattan's West 44th Street. Harbour Court is its on-the-water Clubhouse in Newport, RI. In 1904, the original clubhouse, home to the New Jersey YC for a time, was about to be demolished when NYYC Commodore Frederick G. Bourne had it moved to Glen Cove, Long Island. For the architecturally distinctive if diminutive clubhouse, now more than 160 years old, Newport is its fifth home. "This is an important piece of our history, and we are pleased to get it back," said Commodore Isdale. "Three days after this club was founded, in 1844, the membership cruised from New York to Newport in the first Annual Cruise. Our Harbour Court facility there seems an appropriate place for our first clubhouse."

Commented Revell Carr, president and director of Mystic Seaport, "The support of the New York Yacht Club members over the years has helped create the Mystic Seaport of today. We are saddened to see this exceptional building leave the Museum, but it presents an opportunity to use this space to serve our visitors better."

One of the clubhouse's first official functions in Newport was to host a party to honor and to thank Mystic. As a symbol of the ongoing friendship, Mystic Seaport will maintain two display cases in the clubhouse, depicting its history.

Said Vice Commodore Charles A. Dana III, who organized the move, "Mystic Seaport has been an incredible host to our first clubhouse. New York Yacht Club and Mystic members Rudolph J. Schaefer III and Russell S. Reynolds Jr. personified that stewardship. The clubhouse's move to Newport owes special thanks to L. Scott Frantz and Daniel K. Thorne, also members of both organizations."
Note: Why is the first clubhouse called "Station 10"? Stations were places where NYYC members could congregate and provision their yachts. Beginning in 1893, they eventually
stretched from New York City, to which some members commuted by steam yacht, and Long Island Sound to Martha’s Vineyard. Eventually 11 were established. Station 6, for example, was in Newport, RI. It is now the Mooring Restaurant. The first clubhouse, the subject of this article, was barged from Elysian Fields in Hoboken, NJ to Glen Cove, New York, where it became Station 10. It was the last one to be closed in 1948, when it was barged to Mystic Seaport. It continues to be called “Station 10” -- as well as the club’s first clubhouse -- at the NYYC’s Harbour Court.