Florida Yacht Club
The Florida Yacht Club is a private country and yacht club in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. It is the oldest social club in Jacksonville, and is the fourth oldest surviving yacht club in the U.S. It was founded in downtown Jacksonville in 1877, and moved to its present location in the Ortega neighborhood in 1928.
The Florida Yacht Club was established by seventeen charter members in 1877. New York businessman William Backhouse Astor, Jr., was the driving force behind the creation of a club promoting boating and water sports in Jacksonville. Astor felt that the broad and slow St. Johns River was a perfect location for boating, though he was the only person in Jacksonville to actually own a yacht at the time. The original clubhouse was constructed at the end of Market Street in downtown Jacksonville, and cost $3,500, to which Astor contributed $500. The original Florida Yacht Club building was a large two-story edifice, with the second floor being used for gatherings and dances. Astor served as the club's first "Commodore".
The original building burned down in the Great Fire of 1901. The club moved to a temporary clubhouse in the Riverside neighborhood, before relocating to a new dedicated facility on Willow Branch Creek in 1907. In 1928 the Florida Yacht Club moved to its present building in Jacksonville's Ortega neighborhood. The current clubhouse was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style and cost $90,000.
The Florida Yacht Club became embroiled in a discrimination controversy in June 1993. Several members of the then all-white club nominated Chester Aikens, an African American dentist and community leader, for membership, but the club rejected the bid in what was widely understood to be an attempt by other members to exclude African Americans. The controversy drew national attention and the Yacht Club faced backlash from various institutions; Naval Station Mayport subsequently denied the club use of base property for regattas, and US Sailing pulled a national competition scheduled for later that month. Later that year, the club changed its bylaws to prevent illegal discrimination based on race and invited black members.
- Wood, p. 326.
- Lloyd, Barbara (June 9, 1993). "YACHTING; Nominee Rejection Costs Club An Event". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- "LETTER ASKS CLUB TO BLOCK EFFORTS AT INTEGRATION". The Miami Herald. Associated Press. September 10, 1993. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- Wood, Wayne W.; Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission (1996). Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage. University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-0953-7.