The Clubhouse that Never Was

Commodore Frank H. Foster, III – April 1986

I just obtained forty-eight 8×10 photographs from Chance Brockway.  I have a lot of material and want to begin sharing a little of it with you right away, plagiarizing heavily from Kyle Armstrong’s book, Story of Buckeye Lake Yacht Club.

In 1906, the year the club was formed, it had neither a clubhouse nor a location.  Shortly after Labor Day, 1906, Governor Mooney and others attempted to negotiate to obtain Castle Island.  However, when its lessee learned of club attempts, he paid up his back rent so club officials had to look elsewhere.  at a Tar Social on January 15, 1907, the business included erection of a club house.  About 70 members and guests were present, paid $1.00 a head and held the meeting following “plenty to eat and drink.”  During the meeting, slides of various styles of boats and boathouses were described and Commodore Lynch circulated subscription papers obtaining signatures of those who would agree to purchase a share of “stock” in a clubhouse at $5.00 per share.

Soon thereafter, on January 24, a corporation was formed “for profit” called the Buckeye Lake Building Company.  Capital stock was set at $5, 000, divided into 1,000 shares at $5.00 per share.  Its purpose was constructing and erecting buildings at or in the vicinity of Buckeye Lake to be used for boathouses, clubhouses, and similar purpose, and to acquire land and hold real estate necessary therefor; to build and equip, resnt or sell, sail, row, or power boats, to erect and construct docks and wharves; provide harbors and anchorage facilities for boats; and all other things necessary or incidental to the execution of the afore said objects.  The purpose was to provide facilities for use by BLYC on a rental basis and freeing individual members from personal liabilities.

Incorporators met and the first directors were selected on March 25, 1907.  Subscription to the shares was open only to BLYC and its members.  At this time the incorporators found that 30 members had subscribed to shares in lots of 1 to 20 , the total number of shares subscribed being 116.  Officers of the corporation were selected and $200.00 was borrowed  from BLYC to pay for bills and expenses incurred to date, to be repaid to the club from the company’s treasury, when possible.  A firm of Columbus architects were commissioned to prepare working drawings and specifications for structures to be built at the lake and rented by the corporation to the club.  Between January and March of 1907, the incorporators had taken over a lease on an island and a half lot on the lake’s main shore facing the island.  The island was known as Sunken Island, which was often water covered and had several half grown trees, mostly willows, surrounded by always shallow water.  They determined that it could be raised and enlarged and the waters around it could be deepened by scraping onto the island the material from the adjacent bottom.  We now call it Watkins Island.

This island was at mid-lake and was surrounded by waterso it seemed that it would afford both desirable privacy and unobstructed view in all directions.  It was located near a wagon road and only about 300 yards from the Interurban Railway’s lake terminal.  It would be conveniently accessible, especially with a footbridge that could span the 200 foot strip of swampy channel separating it from the lake’s north embankment.  The architects were to make preliminary sketches showing suitable improvements on Sunken Island.  Those sketches were the basis for commissioning of these architects in March.  Preliminary sketches were presented at that time and published in the newspapers and pictured Sunken Island and high and dry; a covered footbridge leading to it from the mainland; a boat house for powercraft along its east shore; and covering most of the island area a fine clubhouse fronting southward at the water’s edge.  The clubhouse was depicted as a rustic, slab-sided casement windowed, two story structure with steeply pitched hipped, gabled and dormered roofs of wooden shingles.  Long main roof slopes extended downward over three separate porches facing westward, southward, and eastward, the last of which continued beyond the rear of the building to the main shore as the covered footbridge.  High above the lofty rooftop stood a square tower, tapering upward, crowned by a bracketed, balustered, look-out balcony facing all sides around the large, cylindrical, wooded water storage tank.

Within its first story were a great hall with inglenook and field stone fireplace; separate spacious reception and retiring rooms for members and their ladies; a single story wing for dining and kitchen purposes, to the west and to the rear of the porch on that side; and a locker room at the base of the look-out tower at the rear.  In the second story there were sleeping rooms for members and male guests; and the high attic above provided storage space for yachting gear.

With the working drawings and the specifications completed, bids for its constructions were obtained and on May 8, 1907, proposals from five bidders covering the enitre project were opened.  Upon their consideration all were rejected.  While the club had grown to a membership of over 100, sale of stock was lagging behind that expected.  The directors deemed it purdent to confine the company’s immediate development to bare necessities more nearly within the corporation’s limited potential means.  Accordingly, a committee was created and directed to secure new bids on boathouse, bridge and related items only, making alterations in plans and specifications considered feasible while keeping costs at a minimum.

Columbus Dispatch – March 31, 1907

The above is a condenstaion of the account of Kyle Armstrong.  The photograph shows an article published in a Columbus paper on March 31, 1907 and showing the officers of the Yacht Club and the building committee and, very interestingly, a drawing illustrating the proposed clubhouse which was described above.  As you will see in later articles, and as is apparent from Kyle Armstrong’s account, the proposed house was considerably more expensive than the yacht club could afford, so they built a considerably less expensive clubhouse and the boat houses which stood where our covered docks now stand and which were torn down only in the last decade.  I have several pictures of it for another day.  Later, these plans obviously influenced the later design of our current clubhouse.


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