More than a Century of Distinctive Elegance
The Florida Yacht Club was organized in 1876 for the purpose of promoting yachting and social enjoyment. Jacksonville, at the time, was the East coastís southern-most center of winter social activities and recreation which, during the winter months, brought private yachts and railroad cars of wealthy gentlemen to the area. Jacksonville, with its major river, rail connections and large, fine hotels was a natural vacation destination for the affluent businessmen of the Industrial Revolution. The first meeting of the Clubís members was held on April 28th, 1877 and William B. Astor, Jr. was elected Commodore while a lifetime membership fee of thirty five dollars was established.
The first clubhouse was located at the foot of Market Street in downtown Jacksonville and was elegantly designed as a Swiss Chalet. The Club was considered one of the finest buildings of its day, with a ballroom, ladiesí card room on the land side and menís meeting rooms on the river side. Open porches circled the second floor and a captainís walk was on the roof. Membersí boats were stored below and at the Clubsí docks to the East and West. The Club became known at once for its Christmas Ball, cotillions, social affairs, and for Ladiesí day. Gentlemenís day was every day.
The original Club burned in the great fire of 1901. After this catastrophe, the Club took up temporary quarters in the 500 block of Riverside Avenue while the search for a new permanent site began. A gift of attractive property on the south side of the mouth of Willow Branch Creek ended the search. On November 28th, 1907, Thanksgiving Day, a formal re-opening of the Club was celebrated by a cotillion.
Over the next 20 years, the Clubís membership continued to grow and the need for considerable expansion became necessary. With a gift of beautiful waterfront property in the Ortega, a new larger clubhouse was opened and celebrated with a regatta and dance on April 21, 1928. Since that time, the growing membership has been accommodated by the addition of elegant dining rooms, extensive full-service kitchen facilities, more than 1,000 feet of docks and slips, clay tennis courts, and a newly remodeled health club and swimming pool.
Today, The Florida Yacht Club plays host to weddings, numerous annual regattas and social events and is recognized as one of Northeast Floridaís most prestigious private Clubs.