Historic Detroit

Detroit Yacht Club

The Detroit Yacht Club has had five homes since being formed shortly after the Civil War, but it is its current home that gives it the largest yacht club clubhouse in the United States.

A small clubhouse and sailing shed were built at the foot of McDougall Street just south of Jefferson Avenue in the late 1870s. That was replaced with a clubhouse on Belle Isle that was built for $10,000 in 1891. It was lost in a fire in 1904. That facility was replaced by another clubhouse that was built atop the old one.

But with Detroit’s growing wealth came a growing membership in the DYC, and an even bigger facility was needed. The present, villa-style clubhouse opened in 1923 at a cost of $1 million (about $12 million in today’s money). Its design was entrusted to George D. Mason, the same man who built the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and the Masonic Temple, Gem Theatre and several churches in Detroit. Mason also is considered the mentor of legendary architect Albert Kahn.

By the year after the new clubhouse had opened, membership in the club had reached 3,000, and racing legend Gar Wood brought attention to the DYC by setting world speed records and by winning Gold Cups.

Hit hard by the Depression, the DYC bounced back and underwent several expansions in the 1950s and ’60s, including new docks that boosted the number of boat wells to more than 350.

Today, the DYC continues to thrive, and its clubhouse continues to impress.