Edgewood Yacht Club

This historic wooden structure over the Providence River withstood the Hurricane of 1938 but not a lighting strike on January 12, 2011

About this Property

#Reason for Demolition

Built in 1908, this shingle-style building with cupola topped double-hip roof built over the river survived the storm surges of the 1938 Hurricane as well as Hurricane Carol in 1954. The structure was added to the National Register in 1989 and was a central part of the Edgewood community throughout its time.

The building was completely leveled by fire during the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 12, 2011. The fire began around 4:00 am by a lightning strike during an intense snowstorm; in about an hour and a half, the wooden structure was gone. No one was injured, and only the deep-set pilings survived.

#Current Events

For a number of years after the fire, a temporary dock was constructed. Meanwhile, the club and its members formed a building committee, raised funds, and identified an architect that would honor the soul of the original structure. In May of 2018, seven years after the devastating fire, a new building was opened on the same spot, with many of the same familiar details.

#History

Excerpted from the 1989 National Register Nomination Form, written by Patricia A. Sheehan

It is a large two-and-one-half-story, wood-frame, Shingle Style building constructed on pilings in Narragansett Bay. The pilings are evenly spaced in rows, nine across and fourteen deep. The building, measuring approximately sixty-four feet by one hundred feet, is covered by a low gable-on-hip roof, accented with triangular dormers, brick chimneys, and a central octagonal, domed cupola rising from a square base. The roof extends over a two-story veranda around the perimeter of the building. […] A fixed pier and floating docks extend from the east side of the clubhouse. A masonry seawall parallels the building, pier, and docks, beginning on shore at the southern edge of the parking lot and reaching out to the end of the slip area. The adjoining neighborhood comprises residential properties built on the bluffs above the club and fronting on Narragansett Boulevard.

[…] Edgewood Yacht Club is only slightly younger than the state’s oldest yacht club, Rhode Island Yacht Club, and has long held important sailing activities. For many years, the club ran at least one regatta, one one-design race, and several special races. The predominant one-design boat races included Beetles, Stars, Indians, Snipes, 110s, and Puffins. Like many yacht clubs, the Edgewood Yacht Club during World War II formed an auxiliary coast guard to patrol the inland waters of Narragansett Bay. The club has long been a leader in providing sailing instruction to children and adults.

[… T]he Edgewood Yacht Club [was] the only remaining example of a group once relatively common in this ocean-oriented state. Its form and siting typify those of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century seaside clubhouses.

[…] Established at this location in 1885 as the Edgewood Boat Club, this organization served the nascent, upper-middle-class suburb of Edgewood and included only a group of bayside bathhouses. The Club was formally incorporated as the Edgewood Yacht Club in 1889, and a clubhouse, which replaced the various temporary structures here, was constructed in 1903; its incineration in 1908 necessitated the construction of this structure.

#In the News

Seven years after fire, Cranston’s Edgewood Yacht Club resurrected

by G. Wayne Miller Providence Journal | May 19, 2018

The Edgewood Yacht Club is back. Fire destroyed the clubhouse seven years ago — the second leveling blaze since Edgewood was established in the late 1800s — but a new $4-million building in the same location has just been completed, and on Saturday, club officers welcomed members and friends to visit.

Rain fell and the air was chilling, but it was worth the visit. With its classic lines, distinctive red roof, and wraparound porches affording spectacular views up and down Narragansett Bay, the clubhouse can again claim title as a Rhode Island treasure.

“I’ve been on the docks watching this go up the last couple of years, anxiously waiting for it to be finished, and it’s beautiful,” said member and launch captain Norm LaBrie.

Building committee chairman and former commodore Wayne Kezirian, a lawyer and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) board chairman, spoke of nostalgia — and a newfound commitment to the future that followed the fire, on Jan. 12, 2011. He drifted away from the club after graduating from Cranston High School East in 1971, he said, but the fire proved motivational.

“I’m typical of a lot of folks that grew up in Edgewood,” he said. “When we lost that building, we realized that we’d lost something that was important to all of us. A number of people rallied around and came back and I got very actively involved after that.”

LaBrie related. “During the years without the building, the members who remained with the club — some left — got stronger. We got closer. We looked for ways to have events with what we had.”

Indeed, the ashes were barely cool when club members erected a tent in the parking lot, cooked burgers and hot dogs on a grill, ran a flag up the flagpole, and vowed, libation in hand, to rebuild. Only the clubhouse was destroyed; docks remained, and sailing and racing never stopped.

“We are going to rise like the phoenix, there’s no doubt about it,” then-club secretary Flo Spenard, commodore today, told The Journal in a story published 12 days after the fire. “We’re going to keep our friends and our memories — and make new ones.”

The rising was not only metaphorical. The two-story clubhouse, Kezirian said, “is built on 80-foot steel piles filled with concrete. They go down about 65 feet into the [Bay floor]. The pilings and the framework were about $800,000” of the total cost.

That cost was shared by the club and the Brown University Yacht Club and the school’s sailing team, which occupies the second floor. Edgewood has the first floor, with those wraparound porches and a bar, dining area and kitchen. And views of the Bay.

And then there’s CNN founder Ted Turner, an avid sailor who attended Brown and defended the America’s Cup against Australia in 1977 while skippering the 12-meter boat Courageous in races off Newport. Turner picked up some of the cost, and when he visited Edgewood several days ago, Kezirian said, he shared fond memories of Rhode Island.

On Saturday, longtime club member Andy Burkhardt shared some memories, too, after he walked down the hill from his nearby home to the club. He said he approves of the partnership with Brown.

“That community has joined hands with us in many ways,” Burkhardt said. “It’s going to be an interesting future. I think it’s a good fit.”

Designed by Donald S. Richardson, the new clubhouse recreates the architectural spirit of the one it replaces, which in turn replaced the one lost in a 1908 fire — a requirement of the state and federal permitting processes, Kezirian said.

“If the building was on the National Register of Historic Places, which it was, and it was lost to a disaster, you’re allowed to rebuild, provided the new building is in the same location and the design respects design of the building that was there,” he said. “The wraparound porches, the cupola, very much reflect what we had.”

Captured on November 8, 2020. https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20180519/seven-years-after-fire-cranstons-edgewood-yacht-club-resurrected