Edgewood Yacht Club sets sights on new clubhouse


The Edgewood Yacht Club has a new beacon guiding them forward, after initial plans for a new clubhouse were approved by the membership last Tuesday. The renderings, drawn by Shaw Avenue neighbor Martha Werenfels, depict a waterfront clubhouse visible from Narragansett Boulevard, just like its predecessor.

“We lost a good friend, the clubhouse, but we’re ready to go. We don’t want to let this sit; the club needs a clubhouse,” said Commodore Jeff Lanphear.

The proposed 6,000-square foot building is smaller than the structure it replaces but pays homage to the historic building that was destroyed in a fire in January of 2011.

“It still has extensive porches, the red roof and the cupola, all of which were symbolic of the old club,” Lanphear said. “It’s not a classic 1908 building but it does have some of the same aesthetics.”

Preserving the character of the club is exactly what Werenfels had in mind. A nationally recognized expert in the field of historic preservation, she is a principal with the firm Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects.

“My goal was to create a design for the new Edgewood Yacht Club facility that is evocative of the historic building without trying to look historic. The new building will fit into the neighborhood and create a welcoming presence on the water. Through the incorporation of porches, a cupola and multiple roof forms, the design is intended to be a product of today, with references to the past,” Werenfels said.

The Edgewood Yacht Club was founded in 1889 and incorporated in 1902. A fire in 1908 destroyed the original building, and the structure was rebuilt that same year.

The similarities in the new plan to the original clubhouse are a direct result of feedback from the membership. The Edgewood Yacht Club rallied in the wake of the fire, with members cleaning up the site and ensuring that the sailing school would be up and running for the 2011 season. The club operates for the time being out of the Shaw Avenue cottage they own on the north side of the property, and with the help of the Brown University sailing team that recommitted their support to the club, erected a temporary bathroom and storage unit. With a working space set up, they set to the tasks of navigating insurance and soliciting drawings for the new clubhouse.

The insurance award, which the club opted not to disclose, will go toward rebuilding. While the current proposal has not yet been engineered or gone through the permitting process, Lanphear estimates it will cost in the neighborhood of $2 million. The first floor of the building includes elevator access, two showers, storage areas and a laundry area. The second floor includes an office, classroom for the sailing school, a utility room, bathrooms and a multi-purpose room that could double as a ballroom and accommodates up to 100 people (the previous clubhouse could fit 175 people in the ballroom). The clubhouse will still, officials say, be available for private parties, weddings and other events, and as such has a catering kitchen also on the second floor.

“This is a very preliminary sketch. It’s all subject to change,” Lanphear said, adding that, best of all, the new building will be modern and efficient with energy efficient windows and appliances.

The building is partially on land, which saves money compared to a structure built solely on pilings. It also mitigates potential flood impacts. The second floor of the building must be more than 13 feet above the surge level established by the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). An open floor plan with breakaway walls on the ground floor would allow for water to flow through the building during a flooding situation.

“The majority of the club is built higher up,” Lanphear said.

Before releasing the plans to the public, the renderings were approved by the flag officers, the board and then the general membership at a meeting last week. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“They were pleased,” Lanphear said. “Seeing the support of the members was phenomenal. When you see that much support, we know we’re doing the right thing.”

At an Open House on Sunday, past commodore and lifelong member Bill Plumb said that neighbors and members of the public were likewise pleased.

“We created a building committee last fall. They did a survey of the club membership, of what they wanted, and this is what they came up with,” he said.

From here, the EYC will commission an engineering study for the proposal to get a more concrete idea of costs, construction challenges and any obstacles that could arise from the project. After that, they will present the proposal and the engineering findings to the city’s Planning Commission, as well as the CRMC, which will look over the plans to ensure the new building does not negatively impact the surrounding ecosystem.

“Now, we start to raise money,” Lanphear says of the next step.

It has been a challenging year for the yacht club, starting with the Jan. 12 blaze, but the membership rose to the occasion, and so did the community at large. At the same time Rhode Islanders shared their memories of EYC on the Facebook page, donations began coming in, and the social membership ranks tripled from 40 to 120.

“Wherever I am, someone comes up to me and asks what we are doing, what the plan is,” Plumb said.

That response, Lanphear said, is a tribute to the club’s rich tradition in Cranston and in Rhode Island overall.

“Edgewood Yacht Club has always been known as a family sailing community on the Bay. It has a very important place in the community and it has a very important meaning to the neighborhood,” he said. “We want to continue to attract support from the community. We want them all to be a part of this area.”

EYC has about a quarter of the $2 million already, and does not have a mortgage to worry about, but the road ahead will be difficult. They did little to solicit donations right away, as they wanted to have a plan in place to show donors. Now that a rendering is ready, Bill Plumb and his wife, Nancy, are chairing the fundraising committee and are ready to hit the ground running.

“We would like to see financing in hand by the end of the year with construction started in the spring,” Plumb said.

The EYC season officially opens on May 19 with Opening Day ceremonies, beginning with breakfast and flag racing at 9 a.m. There will be a neighborhood party on June 17, and other fundraisers are forthcoming. A social membership is $95, and a full membership is $725. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.edgewoodyc.org or send a check to 1 Shaw Avenue, Cranston, RI 02905.


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