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Picturesque Stamford, 1892

Marine Commerce and Yachting, pp. 205–214.


Marine business
The Patent Swimming-Baths, etc.

Stamford Yacht Club
Shippan Point
Stamford Yacht Club, click for larger image

The yachting interests of Stamford The yachting interests of Stamford have experienced remarkable development and expansion within the last few years, notably through the organization of the Stamford Yacht Club in the early spring of 1891. Its first important step, after the choice of officers and trustees was the purchase of a suitable location on the west side of Shippan Point, containing about four acres of land, on which to build its club house. This property was still further enlarged in the early summer of 1892 by purchase of the adjacent lot and cottage of Mr. Frank H. Hoyt. The main building, bathing house and driving sheds, together with a one hundred and fifty foot dock reaching low water at a solidly constructed crib pier, were put up in 1891, in time for the formal opening of the institution which took place on the 25th of July. The premises have been greatly improved, by the work one in the spring and early summer of the present year, in tile extension of the bathing houses, the construction of a stable and laundry building, the creation, according to the best practice, of two tennis courts, and the general clearing up and smoothing off of the land about the various buildings, and along the sea front of the premises. No more elegant and complete yachting headquarters exists in the State to-day, and the institution is unique in this respect, that it has been purposely developed on lines, which, while lacking nothing for the convenience and accommodation of the yachtsmen themselves, supply also the at­tractions of a delightful shore resort for the ladies and children of their families.

The Club was resolved upon by the gentlemen interested, September, 1890. In the early spring of 1891 the following were elected as officers and director: William A. Lottimer, Commoy; Henry P. Geib, M. D., Fleet Surgeon; I. Frank Wardwell, Treasurer. Directors, James D. Smith, Albert S. Swords, Augustus M. Hurlbutt, William W. Skiddy, Albert C. Hall, Albert C. Smith, Henry K. McHarg, Edward C. Hoyt, James I. Raymond, William L. Brooks. A committee was appointed from these officers and directors to purchase the land and erect the buildings as above stated. On the 28th of April, 1891, a contract was entered into by the committee with A. W. Barrett of Bridgeport, to erect the Club buildings, according to plans and specifications prepared by Mr. Warren R. Briggs, of the same city, and in less than three months the Club was opened for the reception of members and their friends. Later in the season, a Four­in-Hand Club was organized to which only members of the Yacht Club are eligible. A great feature of the Club is that it gives equal facilities to the families of members in all its sports and pleasures – yachting, bathing, tennis Courts, croquet grounds. Concerts, receptions, etc. In the interior there are spacious and appropriately finished parlors, music and reading rooms, and a restaurant conducted in the best style. The list of membership of the Stamford Yacht Club is full. The institution has given the greatest satisfaction, and has proved a marvelous success – a beautiful summer home by the sea for its members. See page 212.

These pages are embellished by three finely drawn and skillfully executed engravings, representing three of the finest of Stamford-owned sailing yachts.

Schooner Yacht “Sylph”
Schooner Yacht 'Sylph', click for larger image

The schooner yacht "Sylph" (see page 207) is one of the best built and best equipped vessels in every way in the American yachting navy. She is often designated by those familiar with her history as the "new Sylph," for though originally dating from 1880, she was so completely remodeled and rebuilt in 1889-90 that she was then an essentially new vessel, nothing of the old "Sylph" having been retained but the keel and the name. She Was built by J. M. Bayles & Co., of Port Jefferson, L. I., and launched in December, 1889. Capt. C. A. Edwards furnished the designs in every detail. This gentleman was in charge of the old "Sylph" from the time of her construction at Mystic, Conn., in 1880, and prior to that time was with Mr. Chase in the "North Star," a handsome sloop yacht formerly owned by the well­known actress, Miss Kate Claxton. This long association between owner and navigating officer is creditable to both suggesting on the one hand a compe­tent and careful sea­man, and on the other a reasonable, generous and gentlemanly owner.

The "Sylph" is center-board schooner, 68.32 gross and 64.91 net tons. Her length over all is 85 feet six inches; waterline 72 feet nine inches; breadth 22 feet ; depth 8 9/10 feet, and draught 7 feet two inches. Her splendid and complete outfit of sails were made by F. M. Wilson, of Port Jefferson. Fine as she is aloft and on deck, and presenting as she does in these particulars a perfect example of the best practice in naval ar­chitecture as applied to vessels designed exclusively for pleasure cruising, the "Sylph's" peculiar excellence is in the comfort and beauty which intelli­gent design, backed by unstinted means, have created in the interior arrangement and embellishment. The wood-work is of birds'-eye maple, English walnut, California redwood and ash. These, showing the natural grain peculiar to each, are employed with judicious taste in giving variety to the prevailing color­tone of the interior finish.

Sloop Yacht “Pocahontas”
Sloop Yacht 'Pocahontas', click for larger image

The "Pocahontas," another first-class Stamford-owned yacht, pictorially represented in these pages, belongs to Commodore James D. Smith, a gentleman who has won not only a national but an international celebrity as a yachtsman, and whose friendly interest in every form of the development of the sport in Stamford waters has been demonstrated time and again during the past twenty years or more. When, under date of April 6, 1892, Commodore Smith addressed a note to the newly organized Waterside Yacht Club, offering a champion pennant and ensign for competition, Commodore George Serobogna's reply was: "Your most kind offer was received by our Club with unanimous and hearty pleasure, and I am directed to return their best thanks to you for an expression of friendly interest in this organization, which could come from no more highly appreciated source than from one who is so justly regarded as the foremost representative of the yachting interests of Stamford." In these words the relation which Commodore Smith has so long sustained towards the general yachting interests of his home port is well stated. His part in the organization of the Stamford Yacht Club in 1890-91 was active, influential and indispensable.

The "Pocahontas" was designed and built by David Kirby at Rye, N.Y., in 1881. She is a center-board sloop of the dimensions following: gross tonnage 49.24, net 46.78; length over all 71 feet 11 inches; Water line 67 feet 10 inches; breadth 21 feet 6 inches; draught of  water eight feet. The mast is 74 feet; top-mast 6 feet; from deck to truck 102 feet : boom 6; feet 6 inches ; gaff 42 feet : bowsprit 44 feet. The "Pocahontas" is fitted and furnished through-out according to the best yachting, practice, in which comfort, convenience and elegance fully considered, but all in subordination to the practical needs of a craft intended to be fit to go to sea in all weathers. Her sailing-master. Capt. M. L. Biggs, of Greenport, has been associated with Commodore Smith in that capacity for about nineteen years – in the schooner "Estelle" and other yachts owned by the Commodore at various times, as well as in the "Pocahontas" – Capt. Biggs is highly respected for his personal qualities as well as in his profession as an ex­perienced and competent seaman.

Commodore Smith spends much of his time on board his handsome vessel during the summer season. He is frequently accompanied by his daughter, Miss Helen, who, inheriting her father's love for the sport, and in circumstances so favorable to its indulgence, has become one of the most accomplished yachts-women in America.

Miss Helen W. Smith Commodore James T. Smith

Sloop Yacht “Eclipse”
Sloop Yacht 'Eclipse', click for larger image
The sloop yacht "Eclipse," Hon. Samuel Fessenden, owner, is another fine Stamford craft pictorially illustrated in these pages. The "Eclipse" was designed and built by C. A. Willis at Port Washington, N. Y., in 1881. Like the "Pocahontas" she is enrolled in the New York Yacht Club list, as well as in her home club, the Stamford Yacht Club. Her dimensions are as follows: Gross tonnage, 25.26, net, 24.00; length over all, 54 feet; water line, 49 feet ; width, 17 feet ; depth, 6 feet ; draught, 4 feet and 6 inches. The "Eclipse'' is a comfortable and able cruiser, and in her outfit and finish lacks nothing essential to yachting of the best form. She has not been put in com­mission in the season of '92, owing to her owner's pressing professional and political engagements.

The steam launch "Advocate" is shown by an engraving on page 211. She was built in Boston in 1886, and is fitted with a six-horse-power Shipman engine. Her dimensions are: length, 30 feet; width, 6 feet. Her finely modeled hull is much admired by nautical experts, and suggests an ease of passage through the water, which is well borne out by her performance when under way. She is owned by Messrs. Gillespie Bros., publishers of the daily and weekly Advocate and of the present volume.

Bathing Scene at Silver Beach Steam Lauch 'Advocate', Gillespie Brothers

Also, from the end of the chapter:

Incidental reference has already been made in this chapter to the Waterside Yacht Club. This organization was formed in March of the present year, and its successful inauguration and subsequent history are significant features of that renewed general interest in the sport which has been so apparent in the last few years.

The W. Y. C. includes in its membership the owners of most of the smaller class of pleasure sailing craft belonging to the port of Stamford. Its officers are: Commodore, George Serobogna; Vice-Commodore, Thomas Pritchard; Rear-Commodore. T. W. Havee; Secretary, James B. Smith; Treasurer, E. F. W. Gillespie; Treasurer, Clarence Lockwood; Trustees, Frank H. Osborn, W. Cook, Philo C. Fuller; Membership Committee, Edward C. Bottomly, Fred. Schenck, C. Chapin, M. Bachelder, Harry Irving; Regatta Committee, P. W. Cuddy, E. C. Bottomly, W. Fabrey, W. Cook and J. B. Smith. The original membership roll contained over forty names, and about as many more have since been added. The boats of the Club have already participated in a series of regattas for prizes offered by Commodore James D. Smith and others, and by the club itself.

Immediately following its organization the Club secured as its headquarters the premises formerly the storehouses upon "the old steamboat dock," so called, at the Waterside, and these were quickly transformed by the taste and enterprise of the leading members into attractive and convenient rooms for club uses. It commands a good view of the Harbor and Sound, and from the waters immediately adjacent the Club's races are started, thus affording to many interested spectators frequent opportunities to witness the start and finish of these interesting events.

The Club has also inaugurated a series of social receptions, These are attended by many ladies and other friends of the members, and are occasions of much enjoyment to all.

Picturesque Stamford, 1892
Research Library
917.46 Stamford G