By P/C Ronald M. Gabel
The Toledo Yacht Club was founded 150 years ago just after the Civil War in 1865. In 1878, the first clubhouse was erected on “Gard Island” near the mouth of the Ottawa River. The clubhouse offered a retreat for fishing, hunting and a sand beach for swimming and sunbathing. For the members to reach the Island, a trolley provided transportation to Point Place and then they had to board a ferry boat near Gibbs Hotel & Resort to reach the Island club house.
The Toledo Yacht Club merged with the Ohio Yacht Club near the end of the 19th century and moved to Presque Isle a popular summer resort at the mouth of the Maumee River.
Move to Point Place at Bay View Park
In 1898, a 25 year lease was obtained from the City of Toledo, Parks Commission for several acres of land and the lagoon at Bay View Park, Point Place. In 1903 the club formed a building committee to erect a large colonial wood club house facing Maumee Bay next to the Maumee River. Upon completion, the yacht anchorage was moved from Riverside Park to the lagoon at Bay View Park. The property today is owned by the Toledo Yacht Club.
In February 1907 the newly built frame wood club house burned completely to the ground with all of its contents. Shortly thereafter, plans were set in motion to build the current Toledo Yacht Club building. The architecture style was Venetian/Renaissance with white stucco outside walls and a brilliant half round tiled red roof.
The building was constructed of all reinforced concrete, stairways, walls, ceilings and floors to prevent another damaging fire. The building cost was $15,000 and the furnishings another $5000. The magnificent 3 story building was completed in April 1908 but due to Lent and Easter observances the gala celebration was not held until May.
On Palm Sunday 2001 the Toledo Yacht Club sustained another major fire that destroyed the entire first floor bar and social hall areas. The fire was contained on the first floor by the all concrete structure, due to good planning 108 years earlier. Today, the entire first floor has been completely rebuilt.
Sailing Yacht Racing
The Toledo Yacht Club sponsored the First International Canada Cup sailing yacht races at Maumee Bay in 1898. In 1906, T.Y.C. then held the first long distance overnight race on Lake Erie. After the disastrous fire of 1907, Commodore Mills of Detroit, Michigan and a life member of the Toledo Yacht Club since 1898, gifted to the Toledo Yacht Club a sterling silver punch bowl to show support after the fire for the club at that difficult and adverse time. Commodore Mills in promoting sailing yacht racing at T.Y.C. in 1907 was the catalyst for the Invitational Mills Trophy Race. In 2015 the Toledo Yacht Club sponsored the 92nd competition for the Mills trophy.
The Toledo Yacht Club at Bay View Park was enshrined in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 by the National Park Service, United States Department of Interior on the 200th anniversary of the United State.
This year, 2015, marks an incredible milestone in the history of the Toledo Yacht Club, the 150th anniversary of its founding. During the past 107 years the club house has been at Bay View Park, Point Place Toledo. Throughout this period the clubhouse has seen the transformation of the Toledo Yacht Club fleet of yachts moored at its docks from sail to steam to gas/diesel and from gleaming wood finishes to bright fiberglass.
Passing the test of time, the Toledo Yacht Club has been a member of the Point Place community through two world wars, a great depression, several armed conflicts and numerous economic ups and downs to remain a premier yacht on Western Lake Erie.