Ashtabula Yacht Club's organizational meeting was held March 11, 1924. Ned Richards, R.J. Sheldon, and Alden Hopkins formed a committee on by-laws, and an application for Charter was then approved. A year later, on April 15, 1925, the Rules and Regulations were adopted and the reported charter and corporation papers were received for the new club named Ashtabula Yacht Club.
The object of this new club was to encourage the sport of yachting, to promote the science of seamanship and navigation, and to provide and maintain suitable anchorage for the recreation of its members.
The hunt for a suitable location for the club immediately began, and in 1925 a site was found. The Ashtabula Realty Company gave a site at Redbrook to AYC. It was 3 miles west of Ashtabula Harbor at the mouth of a small creek. Another year went by as members worked to get dredging equipment and pick a contractor, American Construction Company, to build needed piers. Work began in earnest in 1926 as members pitched in to help with the dredging and building. Drifting sand conditions required constant dredging to keep the channel open for the larger boats, and eventually forced the abandonment of the site. A move was made to deeper water facilities at the present site.
Things were going well when the Depression hit hard. It was 1942 before the club got underway again. During that year, interest in boating, especially cruisers, led to a joint meeting of the AYC members with the Ashtabula Chamber of Commerce and city officials. Through the cooperation of city and chamber people, a lease on the present site was obtained on November 15, 1942, from the Pennsylvania Railroad. The site had been one of Ashtabula's early ore docks, dating back before the landfills that created present harbor facilities. The mouth of the river at that time was near the West 5th Street bridge. By 1943 members began the task of cleaning sunken fish tugs, sand, and other accumulated junk from the slip.
By 1944 the club's new home and present clubhouse site was ready for use. The Redbrook site was sold and became headquarters to I-LYA member Redbrook Boat Club. It was now 1948, and officers of the club announced they were obtaining a building for club meetings and social events. The club used a building east of the present Coast Guard station, a structure built as a barracks for sailors in World War II and acquired by an Ashtabula man. The building was a one-story frame structure. Remodeling included painting, furnishing, and installation of a galley. In 1947 the club rendezvous had started being a social event with clubs from Grand River, Conneaut, and as far away as Canada in attendance. Club burgees were presented to the membership to be flown from the bow of yachts. In 1955, the clubhouse was in the planning stage to be moved from its location behind the U.S. Coast Guard station to its present location. Gas pumps were even installed.
In May 1961 ground-breaking ceremonies for the new clubhouse climaxed 37 years of growth by the club. Ceremonies were conducted at the club's grounds just downriver from the old car ferry slip. The $13,000 structure was the first clubhouse that AYC owned. It was constructed at riverside, near the mouth of the slip where members' boats were docked. Construction contracts were awarded to the Douglas Lumber Company of Jefferson. Members donated their own labor and furniture, and the ladies made the draperies. A screened patio was added on to the clubhouse in 1968. The following year the river front property was obtained and developed. The early 1970's saw a fence and playground added to the facility. The membership boasted 127 members and had a waiting list for docks. In 1977 AYC purchased more property from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Today, Ashtabula Yacht Club has a membership of 165 with 125 docks for their sail and powerboats.
This article was reprinted from the I-LYA 2001 Yearbook with permission granted by Dennis Mintus, 2001 I-LYA Commodore.