HISTORY OF THE FAIRPORT HARBOR YACHT CLUB
By Bob Mayfield
of 1949 a group of boating enthusiasts met at THE SUNSET SODA BAR on Lake Road
in Painesville Township. This group of gentlemen headed by Hiram Laird of
Painesville, organized a boating club. H. Laird shared his thoughts on
Regulations and Purpose of the Club. A motion to organize carried and Officers
were elected as follows:
President: Hiram Laird
Vice President: J. Donald Smith
Secretary: Carl J. Stokes
Treasurer: John Killinen
At the second meeting at THE SUNSET SODA BAR with an attendance of 13, a Board of Directors was formed consisting of the above elected Officers and 3 Chairman of the following committees; Membership, Entertainment/Attendance and Property.
Topics included possible
sites for club use. Diamond Alkali Co. and B. & O. Railroad properties were
the early candidates. Membership fees were set at $10. Later on, annual dues
were set at $10.
Regular Membership and
Board of Directors meetings were held at local establishments and at member’s
homes and businesses. The Board of Directors continued working on Rules and
Regulations, property acquisition, goals for the club and by the end of the 6th
regular Meeting, Club property was acquired through a lease agreement with the
B. & O. Railroad Co. Cost of leasing was $30 per month. An associate
membership status was added for those wishing to join the club for the social
activities. Later on this evolved as a waiting list for Full Membership. At the
end of the regular meeting on July 5, 1949, the Club Charter was officially
closed with 33 Charter members.
Included in the Charter
membership is Past Commodore Lou Crowther, currently a Privileged Associate
Member. Lou served the club many years as Secretary and other the positions
before and after becoming Commodore.
This group of dedicated
boaters, named the club THE OUTBOARD BOATING CLUB OF LAKE COUNTY (OBC of LC) and
decided to file for Incorporation with the State of Ohio. Articles of
Incorporation were filed January 5, 1950. The club also became an affiliate of
the Outboard Boating Club of America. Years
later, on the 9th day of August 1968, the club name was officially
changed to FAIRPORT HARBOR YACHT CLUB.
After much time and effort
in acquiring a lease of the property (currently called the Mainland), Club
members began clearing the land and building docks on this site located on the
Fairport side of the Grand River. Club members were assigned dock spaces and
required to construct their own docks according to specifications per Club
In the beginning, membership was restricted to boats with outboard propulsion, which later included inboard/outboard propulsion. It appears the reason was basically to keep the club restricted to smaller boats, to maintain lower dues and other costs low, so that the average working man could afford to belong to the club and participate in boating.
As time passed and needs
changed, the restrictions on the type of propulsion were replaced by boat size
The first meeting on Club
grounds took place on August 2, 1949. For several years, Club meetings in winter
months were held at members’ homes or businesses because there was no
clubhouse or shelter adequate to hold meetings during cold weather. On a few
occasions, summer club meetings held on the club grounds were closed early due
to heavy downpours. Usually refreshments and fishing or boating movies followed
Even with a tight budget,
many improvements were accomplished in a short time, including a bridge, a
roadway through the grounds, a shelter/concession stand, “Chick Sails”
(outside toilets), and lighting powered by a gasoline powered generator. Club
grounds lighting seemed to set the
stage for a bright future.
During these earlier years of development, the club was confronted with many problems:
A firebug burned all the
club buildings, delinquents using firearms on club grounds, thievery and fears
of losing use of the club property. Even with all these problems and
adversities, the Officers and Members would not give up their dream. Without the
dedication and hard work of these strong willed visionaries, we would not have
what we have here today.
At a meeting on February 6, 1951, a motion passed to allow the Ladies to form a Ladies Auxiliary. The Ladies Auxiliary turned out to be a great asset to the club. In addition to being a great opportunity for fellowship for the ladies, The Ladies Auxiliary provided many assets and improvements to the clubhouse and contributed to the beautification of the grounds.
Social events began in June of 1951, with a fish fry held at Township Park at a cost of $1 per plate. It was a big success and netted some revenue for the club. A clambake in September of 1951, put on by club members was also a success. This was the beginning of many social events that although have had some ups and downs, overall has been a big benefit for the club. Also, for several years, the club participated in The Annual Mardi Gras with boat outfit raffles, which added to the finances of the club.
In September 1953, members approved the purchase of a 24ft. x 32ft. Quonset Building. The building was put up and officially opened on Decoration Day. A Grand Opening celebration included a flag raising, boat parade and a potluck dinner. At this point in time the clubhouse was just a bare structure with a dirt floor and required much more work.
In September 1957, the
property currently called the Island was leased from the Diamond Alkali Co. at a
cost of $12 a year. The use of this property added more docks for member use and
expansion of membership. At an Emergency Board Meeting on August 4, 1977, member
Ralph Parsons informed the club that Diamond Shamrock was willing to sell the
Island property and FHYC would have the first option to purchase. The Board of
Directors voted to have the Treasurer check out possible financing options and
to immediately send a check for $1,000.00 as a retainer. An additional $33,000
would be required to complete the purchase. After much consideraton, the Board
came to an agreement that the club should pay for the property in full and
charge each full member for their share of the cost of the property. A Land
Acquisition Committee was formed to work out the details and bring a plan before
the membership for approval. In
brief, the plan called for each full member to pay an equal share of the
purchase price, to be paid back upon resignation or death. New members coming
into the club would also be required to pay an equal share, as part of their
obligation to the club. At the December 6, 1977 Election Meeting, the membership
voted to approve the committee’s plan and recommendations. After much
follow-up work, purchase of the Island property was completed in August of 1978.
Later on a screen house
was built and as improvements were made, it served as a second clubhouse for
members docking on the Island. As years passed and many more improvements made,
the Island soon became a favorite spot for many visiting boaters.
From the beginning, many
attempts were made and failed to acquire the mainland property the club was
renting. Several times there was reason to fear losing the use of the property
and possible disbanding of the Club. Finally, a group of members, led by member
Ralph Parsons, persisted in the pursuit of and final acquisition of the mainland
property the club had occupied since 1949. Purchase of the mainland was
finalized in December of 1979. At this time there was a good feeling of security
Over the years the club
experienced many problems: Low and high water problems, destruction from floods
and ice jams, differences between members, thievery and at times lack of member
attendance and participation. But due to the hard work and perseverance of some
determined visionaries, the club keep improving and growing. Many changes such
as; major additions and improvements to the club house and grounds, repair and
improvements on the water front and enlargement of the slip area, all came
slowly and made the Fairport Harbor Yacht Club one of the nicest, versatile
boating clubs in this area. Much of
the progress was a result of special skills and talents of many club members and
donations of materials and use of equipment from local companies whose employees
were members of FHYC.
The Fairport Harbor Yacht
Club supports and satisfies the needs of a wide variety of boaters. Boaters
interested in cruising, fishing, sailing or any combination of boating interests
can usually have their needs met at FHYC.
All of you, who benefit from all the work, the vision and determination of those who poured their heart and soul into the Fairport Harbor Yacht Club, should never take for granted what we have today. We should continue to honor and give thanks to the founders of FHYC and to those who followed up and continued this effort to get us where we are today. Lets always remember and respect the Ideals and Purpose of the founders and the hard workers who followed their lead. And just as important, we should follow the golden rule and treat our fellow members and fellow boaters with respect, which would certainly make the founders and builders of this club proud.
Footnote: This is a first draft and a work in progress written by Bob Mayfield who passed away in 2005. Anyone having or knowing someone who might have old pictures or information that would add some interesting or useful information to the club history, please contact Dennis Steffy.
Past Commodores (* Deceased Members)