1900 Tiverton Basin

If you're wondering what Tiverton Basin looked like a hundred years ago, the postcard at left dates from 1904 to 1918 and shows the view from Portsmouth.  At right is the site on Main Road at the foot of Middle Avenue as it looked in 1895 of the approximate location of what would become Standish Boat Yard.

 

1938 to 1947

The origins of TYC are with the Fall River Yacht Club. Situated on Riverside Drive, immediately south of the current TYC and directly across the street from the John Moran homestead, FRYC served the ample interest in racing and sailing of Tiverton residents.  In addition to the 20 foot porch overlooking the harbor, the south water frontage of the adjacent wharf was reserved for the exclusive use of the members.  The clubhouse was destroyed by the 1938 Hurricane, pictured at right, and for several years Tiverton residents were without a yacht club.  The old stone pilings of that building are still visible extending out into the harbor.  

     


Continued interest in yachting, especially Candy Class sailboat racing, spurred a group of Tivertonians to launch a drive for a new yacht club in the fall of 1945.  Several informal meetings were held in the home of Carlton Grinnell and the first organizational meeting was held at the home of Stewart Grinnell, who became the club’s first secretary. 

It was decided to lease the second floor of the building on the dock at the foot of Middle Ave. [now Standish Boatyard], whose new owners, Henry Walsh, his son, Harry and son-in law James Mataronas, had agreed to install a soda bar, cover the walls with knotty pine, lay a hardwood floor in the clubroom, construct a large porch on the second floor waterside and build a bridge directly from the street side second floor to the Main Road sidewalk for easy access. Additionally, a 20-foot addition was built on the building south end, giving the TYC a 60 X 30 foot area. The south water frontage of the wharf was to be for the exclusive use of the members of the new club. Point of interest, the facility had just been purchased by Mr. Walsh’s group from Francis Manchester.  

   
Standish boatyard looks very much the same today as it did in the early 1950s. 


A successful membership drive in the spring of 1946 insured a healthy future for the new TYC when it held its first annual meeting at Whitridge Hall, Lawton Avenue in Tiverton’s Stone Bridge area, on April 11.  The first meeting of the TYC board of directors was held on May 3 when the first flag officers of the new club were elected.  Stewart Grinnnell, the first Commodore, initiated the racing program.  The 1946 season saw the first formal racing schedule, a series of social events, and all sorts of new equipment for the club. During this period of expansion, the Tiverton Candy Boat Fleet [the primary sailboat racing class of the TYC] increased in size to a registration of 42 boats, and the powerboat fleet numbered 26, with the total membership of 206 yacht club individuals.  

Towards the end of the 1947 season, while Carleton Grinnell was president and Robert T. Richards commodore, several important changes were made in the by-laws. It was voted to abolish the system of dual officers and to instruct the running of the club to the flag officers and board of directors. The board was to consist of fifteen members, five to be elected per year for a three-year term. 

1954 to 1958

Hurricane Carol devastated the area in 1954.  

As the club continued to grow it became apparent that more suitable quarters were needed.  In 1955 a committee was appointed to find a new site and on October 4, 1955 an historic three story Victorian house at 54 Riverside Drive (next to the lot formerly occupied by the old Fall River Yacht Club) was purchased from club member Ken Brown.  Originally known as the Bay View House it was built in 1871 for use as a hotel by Philander Smith.  In the 1890's it became a house of entertainment for transients featuring weekly clambake dinners.  Later owners are presumed as it has also been known as the Abner Tallman House as well as the “Faucett House”.    

 

 

The purchased building and grounds enabled TYC to open the 1956 season, under the leadership of Commodore Leonard Mersey, with the added facilities of a bathing beach, senior and junior quarters, a separate galley and new clubhouse furnishings. A new wharf, outdoor barbeque, horseshoe and shuffleboard courts were added in the next few years.  The simple "T" dock which extended out into the bay was used for the Candy Boats owned and raced by TYC members. TYC held the majority of trophies in the Candy Class Regattas held throughout Narragansett Bay.  The Indian Class of boats appeared during this time.  

At the close of the 1958 season TYC family membership had increased to 152 with well over 300 juniors and 27 single adult members. With a total membership in excess of 600, our physical facilities were considered among the finest in the Narragansett Bay area. TYC had one of the most active social and racing calendars on the whole east coast.

1960s Candy Boat Racing

By 1964, TYC family membership had increased to 200.  In the late 1960's, #15 Sugar Daddy Candy boat was donated to the TYC by a member.  About 1965, the Ensign Class of boats appeared.  A float, equipped with diving boards and a slide, was used for swimming. Parking at this time was along Riverside Drive.

 

Zoning was established in 1964.  The TYC land to the west (the marina) was zoned waterfront commercial.  The land to the east of Riverside Dr (the clubhouse) was zoned residential, making the TYC a legal non-conforming use, an issue that foretold our future.

1970

In 1970, the leadership in the yacht club decided to undertake closing in of the clubhouse front porch area and the building of a second floor deck over the old front porch.  Construction was performed by Alvin Litchfield, furnishing donated by Ralph Cutillo of Stone Bridge Inn and the new enclosed front porch was tiled by Phil Drapeau of Allied Floor Covering. These tasks resulted in an expanded senior area on the second floor and a larger gathering/dining area on the main floor.

 

The sail training program was led in the 1970’s by John Isherwood and further developed under the leadership of John Fonseca, Tom Gendreau, David Collins and Joseph Ney.  The Candy class participation was beginning to diminish because of deteriorating wooden boat conditions and a desire to introduce a one-design fiberglass racing class. The very active racing group coordinated the purchased of over 30 Sunfish, revitalizing the junior and senior weekly racing programs.  Sunfish racing was observed at the TYC for the next 20 years.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s Faith Peckham taught hundreds of area youngsters how to swim on the Club’s sandy beach, a popular spot during the day and evenings for family barbecue.

1987

In 1987 the yacht club undertook two major transformations: (1) the simple "T" dock became a small 3 fingered marina with slip accommodations for a limited number of members and (2) a large in-ground swimming pool was installed adjacent to the club house on the property south yard area.  The swimming pool, with shallow and deep ends, has provided member enjoyment and swimming lessons.  The beachfront continues to be available for sunbathing and salt water swimming.  Unfortunately, the addition of the marina resulted in the loss of our long enjoyed swimming/diving raft that was configured with both low and high diving boards and a slide.

2003

In June of 2003, the yacht club was destroyed by fire.  Fortunately no one was injured as the clubhouse had not opened for the season yet. Unfortunately, all of the yacht club records, trophies and memorials were destroyed. The fire was attributed to an electrical problem.   TYC continued its summer season operations using a tent as a temporary facility and a bathroom trailer.  The swimming programs and sail training programs continued with full enrollment.  The cruising class weekly races continued with good attendance.  Family and adult functions continued with strong attendance throughout the summer season.  The Board of Directors persisted tirelessly to obtain all the necessary permits to allow our club to rebuild. 

           

2007

In the fall of 2007, the yacht club was in the final stages for implementing the building process. The rebuild battle had already been long, costly and difficult, with frequent challenges from our neighbors to the South and North.  We expected final court rulings on the rebuilding/zoning constraints before the end of 2007 and for our rebuilding process to begin in the spring of 2008.  Unfortunately we were to wait several more years, however we continued to be active in racing, sail training and swimming programs. Our membership continued to be strong in the 150-160 family range and as only one of two East Bay yacht clubs we provided an excellent social, yachting and family oriented experience.

   

2012

TYC continued summer season operations using a tent as a temporary facility and a bathroom trailer. The swimming programs and sail training programs continued with full enrollment. The cruising class weekly races continued with good attendance. Family and adult functions were actively attended throughout the summer season. The Board of Directors work tirelessly to obtain all the necessary permits to allow our club to rebuild.

On October 12, 2012, Commodore Greg Jones announced the start of dredging at the marina within the next few weeks.  There was precious little water left around the dingy docks as our boat owners well knew.  This summer we would add new sand on the beach, a second tent with more picnic tables.  Greg reported the status of our new clubhouse:  we are presently working with the Tiverton Town Council to pass an ordinance change that will allow us to install an ISDS (septic system).  With this, we can apply for a building permit.  Our current house plans meet the appropriate zoning requirements, so this ordinance change will remove a significant barrier to rebuilding.

2014

The Town of Tiverton issued a building permit for the new clubhouse on September 26th, 2014.  This had been a long time coming and the Board of Directors was very pleased to see this important milestone reached.  The building committee and finance committee finalized plans to make the clubhouse a reality.