History

Captain Clingenpeel and (then) Commodore Kaiser
The Norwalk Yacht Club was founded in August 1894 to create an organization, as expressed in the Club's Constitution, for people interested in boating and yachting for the purpose of mutual acquaintance, amusement, enjoyment and social intercourse.

Interest in the new club was high and the membership quickly grew from the founding fifteen members to forty, enabling the Club to purchase one acre of land on Hickory Bluff on the western shore of Wilson Cove and to raise a loan to construct the original clubhouse.

The Club grew from strength to strength during the early twentieth century with active programs of cruises, races and social activities. The Great Depression had a significant impact on the membership but the generous support of a few dedicated members ensured the Club's survival through this difficult period and the following war years.

With the post-war recovery in the 1950's, the silting of the western side of Wilson Cove and the lack of parking at the site on Hickory Bluff made it increasingly difficult to accommodate the Club's growing membership. Fortunately, in 1960 the Club had the opportunity to purchase its present site on the eastern shore of Wilson Cove. In 1964, a new clubhouse was built on the acquired property and the original clubhouse was sold to private owners. Since the move across Wilson Cove, the Club has continuously upgraded and improved its marine and land facilities, including a major renovation of the Clubhouse in 1988 and building a Junior Clubhouse and maintenance workshop in 1995.

Until the Club acquired the property, the new site had been in commercial hands for many years. Originally developed in the 1880's as a freight and passenger ferry terminal by the Housatonic Railroad Company, it was used as a shipyard in World War I and then later as a tanker offloading facility with pipelines extending up to the Standard Oil Company storage tanks near Ely Avenue. The purchase ended the commercial use of Wilson Cove, enabling it to become the charming anchorage for private boats that it is today.

While the Club's racing and cruising traditions date back to its foundation, the Club has added new programs to meet the evolving needs of its members. The Junior Program was started in 1934 and, with a break during the World War II years, has introduced in excess of one thousand children to the pleasures of sailing, including Peter Isler, the navigator for several of Dennis Connor's America's Cup campaigns. Frostbite sailing started in 1964 and, most recently, the Adult Sailing Program began in 1996 in a fleet of Club-owned Ideal 18's.

The Club celebrated its Centennial in 1994 with several special events including a Spring cruise in the British Virgin Islands, a sunburst raft-up in Port Jefferson, a Centennial Dinner at the Norwalk Maritime Center and the publication of the Club's history from which this summary has been drawn.