Here are some gems from our Maryland Yacht Club history that
we would like to share with our guests.
Contributed by P/C Harold E. Fink
One Sunday afternoon, one of those unreliable “Naphtha”
launches conked out just off a yacht club at Ferry Bar,
Baltimore Harbor. They paddled over to the club dock for
protection until a storm passed but the storm on the dock
was even worse. Uniformed dock boys were threatening to cut
their lines if they didn’t leave. Members on the porch were
shouting “Get that damn thing away from here before it blows
up and kills everybody.” Finally, the storm passed, the
engine started, and they cast off much to the relief of the
members and employees of the club. After leaving the hostile
dock, the Naphtha launch men decided to start a club of
their own and called it Maryland Yacht Club.
William P. Bigelow 1911
On the night of October 27, 1908, at the old Auto House in
Baltimore, forty-eight men attended a meeting at the
invitation of Mr. E. C. Loane. The new club was officially
organized as the Maryland Motor Boat Club incorporated on
November 10, 1908, when it was duly recorded with the State
Tax Commission. The record is signed by Meyer Rosenblush,
our first Commodore. It is likely that we are the second
oldest Yacht Club in the United States in terms of
continuous history and proven dates.
In the spring of 1909, the Club raised $8,000 and built a
clubhouse on piles on the northern shore of the middle
branch of the Patapsco River between the present Hanover
Street Bridge and Ferry Bar.
A picture of this clubhouse is
in our current clubhouse.
When more than a few sail boaters joined the club it was
decided to change the name to Maryland Yacht Club, which was
done on December 17, 1919.
Soon after that, the Western Maryland Railroad bought Ferry
Bar from the city, forcing the Club to a new location. The
sunken yacht Violet was raised and towed to where the
Hanover Bridge Marina is today, and it became the clubs new
home. The membership at that time was 138. A picture of the
Violet is also in our clubhouse. Commodore Rosenblush’s
Seylla, in the picture, won a silver cup on August 22, 1914,
and this is the Club’s oldest trophy. By 1925 the membership
had outgrown the Violet so they moved to Broening Park,
which was owned by the city and is now the location of
Harbor Hospital. Twenty thousand people were present to see
the opening ceremonies and the first power boat race in
Baltimore. Commodore Fredrick led a Fleet Review of 65 boats
that day. The basin grew to 188 slips and was a model for
other clubs throughout the country. The membership in 1929
1945, the Club leased Fairview (our present site) for ten
years with the thought that this would be a summer quarters.
Fairview had been a big, commercial beach and amusement park
in the 30’s. The steamships Mohawk, Fairview, and Kitty
Knight brought people by boat from Baltimore and others came
by car. During the war years of the 40’s, the boats were
gone and the cars had no gas. After the war, when gas was
again available, the cars drove to Ocean City instead of
nearby Bay beaches. In the late 40’s, the old hotel was
renovated into a more modern clubhouse with a dining room,
dance floor, cocktail lounge, kitchen and restrooms. In
1953, the Club bought Fairview and in 1955 left Broening
The first “Queen of the Chesapeake” Pageant was held in 1948
and the first Queen was Miss Rachel Holmes of Bush River
Yacht Club. The interviewing of contestants started in 1950.
Maryland Yacht Club has had three winners: Mary Lou King in
1951, Ellen Potter in 1970, and Carol Doetlaff in 1987.
In 1971, the new “A” pier project was started and that lead
to the rebuilding of the other piers into our present B,C,D
and E piers.
Then came the 1975 Labor Day cruise to St. Michael’s. At
2:00a.m. Sunday morning the phone call came informing us
that the clubhouse had burned down. We only had a few
thousand dollars in the bank, but with lots of courage we
built anew. Our present clubhouse was completed in October,
In 1982, the beach house was torn down and rebuilt making
the oldest original structure standing today the carousel,
which was built in the early 30’s. The pilings to the north
of the beach house which once supported the loading dock
where the steamers tied up and discharged their happy crowds
are still visible.
The automatic gate was installed in 1978 and many problems
(some mechanical) came with it, but they were a minor
inconvenience compared to the improved security. You can be
sure, however, that our gate is always open to our boating
friends, and that exciting things will continue to happen at
Maryland Yacht Club.