TOLEDO YACHT CLUB
The history of the Toledo Yacht Club dates back to August 14, 1865 when the original organization, the Toledo Boat Club, was founded. At this time, the Toledo Boat Club had a boathouse located on the Maumee River at Elm Street.
During the post "Civil War" period, there was more public interest in "Rowing" than "Sailing" and individual "Power Boats" had yet to make their presents felt. Toledo boasted of such clubs as the Undines Xantho Boat Club and the Naiads. The rowing fraternity was housed near the Cherry Street bridge. Such boats were raced as the "Toledo", an eight-oared barge, "Naiad", a four oared shell; "Albertine", a double shell; and "Mist", a single sculled shell. These races attached thousands of spectators. Upon the wane of barge and shell racing as a popular sport, the private sailing community began to emerge.
In 1878, the first clubhouse, a small frame building, was erected on Gard Island and the name "Toledo Yacht Club" was adopted. This club served its members until 1890 when a second more pretentious clubhouse was erected with a large front veranda and sleeping rooms on the second floor. Ferryboats ran between Point Place and Gard Island making the clubhouse on Gard Island more accessible to many of its members.
The flood of 1883 did great damage to the yachts, destroying some and wrecking a large part of the fleet. It was years before these yachts could be replaced by new boats.
During the time the Toledo Yacht Club was located on Gard Island, a rival organization known as the "Ohio Yacht Club" was incorporated in 1885, and had a clubhouse erected on Presque Isle. Intense rivalry developed between the two clubs and continued until 1896 when a merger of the two clubs under the name of "Toledo Yachting Association" was adopted.
About this time, Presque Isle had attained great popularity as a summer park. The river steamer "Pastime" made several trips a day so that the island became quite accessible from the City of Toledo and in 1898 the club built its third clubhouse on Presque Island facing up the river. The city quarters of the club were in the Neptune Building.
In 1898 the Toledo Yachting Association secured from the City of Toledo and the Board of Park Commissioners a twenty-five year lease for the property that Toledo Yacht Club presently occupies at Bay View Park, and the club agreed to erect a clubhouse worth not less than five-thousand dollars and to permanently improve, reclaim, beautify and construct waterways upon the leased land. In 1901, the club re-adopted the old historic name the "Toledo Yacht Club".
On the night of Feb. 5, 1906, the newly built, fourth clubhouse, a frame colonial building took fire and burned to the ground. The club then build its fifth clubhouse, the present concrete fireproof structure which was completed in 1908. The new building was opened April 1, 1908 with a grand reception for members.
On the twenty-third of March 1909, William Howard Taft, President of the United States of America, for the purpose of encouraging proficiency in the art of sailing upon the Great Lakes by means of popular contests in yachting, gifted to the Toledo Yacht Club a beautiful silver cup known as the "Presidents Cup". The most famous winner of the Presidents Cup was "Old Sam". Old Sam had won over one hundred sailing events before she was retired and its transom displayed in a prominent place at the Toledo Yacht Club as a memento to this famous sailing yacht.
Commodore Merrill B. Mills of Detroit inaugurated the annual Mills Trophy Race in 1907 and donated to Toledo Yacht Club a sterling silver punch bowl, very ornate in design, for the purpose of encouraging proficiency in the art of navigation upon the Great Lakes by means of a popular contest in yachting. This race was held annually until the year 1917 at which time it was discontinued, both because of an unfortunate accident which cost the life of a popular yachtsman and the depressing influence of World War I. The Mills Race was re-established by the Toledo Yacht Club in conjunction with the Storm Try Sail Club. In 1995, the seventy second running of the race, 161 yachts competed for thirty-eight trophies. The yacht race has become one of the most popular sailing events on the Great Lakes yacht-racing schedule.
In 1965, Toledo Yacht Club organized a centennial celebration with a parade of boats and the crowning of a centennial queen. As the oldest club in the area and the eleventh oldest yacht club in the United States, the Toledo Yacht Club became host to the Centennial celebration.
The historic Toledo Yacht Club, Bay View Park, Toledo, has been entered in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
The Toledo Yacht Club is affiliated with I-LYA, AYC, Detroit River Yachting Association, US Sailing Association and Western Lake Erie Cruising Association and is proud to be a founding member of many of these fine boating organizations.