History of TBC
In The Beginning
Summer of 1927: The story behind The Beach Club’s first successful season
Since 1927, The Beach Club has been a cherished part of its members’ lives, providing those fortunate enough to enjoy “. . . this social club on the beach for the enjoyment of water, sand, and sun,” with bright memories that remain vivid long after each Labor Day arrives, ensuring the longevity of this very special spot on Nantucket Sound’s beautiful coastline.
In August of 1926, the original impetus for this prestigious club was the desire of several local summer residents for a private club where beach-goers could savor the beauty of Craigville’s pristine beach without the overcrowded conditions then prevalent on Centerville’s popular public beach. The availability of inexpensive automobiles had created great crowds who parked up and down Craigville Beach Road. Old photos from that time show congested public facilities stretched to the max by daytime visitors.
A group of year-round and summer residents from Wianno to Hyannisport began to imagine the possibility of procuring a piece of land at Craigville, or on Long Beach, where their families could enjoy the ocean’s warm waters, yet be cooled by seaside breezes followed by glorious sunset views at parties and social events. Ten men and women sent a formal letter of introduction and a plan for establishment of just such a club to about 100 possible supporters. The response was immediate and many recipients responded with great enthusiasm.
Those ten original stockholders put up $200 each and then began to raise funds by selling subscriptions in January of 1927. Work began in earnest and parcels of land were acquired. One lot directly west of the current public beach was the summer home of a local resident named Mrs. Walter Doremus. The existing turn-of-the-century cottage was well built and became the central (and still existent in 2017) axis of the Club’s eventual design.
Properties on either side of the cottage were also purchased for the current women’s locker rooms and the men’s facilities on the eastern side. The final parcel was across the street on Long Beach Road, eventually becoming a perfect location in 1931 for parking automobiles despite some controversy from local residents who disliked “fencing off part of the Atlantic” for the new-fangled contraptions being turned out by the thousands by booming American car companies.
Moving full speed ahead, the Club’s first Board of Directors sent out brochures to subscribers proposing the hiring of men’s and ladies locker room attendants as well as swimming instructors and attendants to keep the beach and club equipment clean and orderly. A simple kitchen for the serving of afternoon tea and light sandwiches was added to the initial design of the Club.
The total anticipated cost of the project was $85,000; $50,000 for the land, $25,000 for building costs, and $10,000 for land improvement, beach equipment, furnishings, etc.
A little more than a month after the brochure was mailed, $30,000 had been received. On March 3, 1927 the Craigville Beach Trust was formed. Plans and architectural specs were prepared and in the cold snowy days of February 1927 contracts were signed and work began with the goal of opening day on June 15 of that year! In March, an additional $40,000 was raised.
The original Craigville Beach Trust members decided the club’s name would be simple and to the point: The Beach Club. The newly created Board of Govenors decided at the outset that there would be three standing committees: the House Committee, the Membership Committee, and the Sports Committee.
Expenses would be somewhat of an experiment as there was very little information available on which to base costs. Dues were undetermined, yet the Board hoped to make such fees as reasonable as possible. The entire process was met by positive and decisive support and with good old Yankee determination the vision of the Club became a reality. By the summer of 1927, The Beach Club was open for business and it has survived for 90 uninterrupted glorious seasons until today when more than 300 lucky members (including many descendents of the Club’s original members) still savor the joys of summer at one of America’s oldest—and still most admired—private clubs!
This history was compiled by club historian, Susan Dewey, from material in “The Beach Club 1927-2002” created for the Club’s 75th anniversary season.
Watch these pages for The Beach Club’s story through the decades between 1927 and now.