THE UNIVERSITY YACHT CLUB
FLOWERY BRANCH, GEORGIA

A HISTORY

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IN SEVEN CHAPTERS
AS TOLD BY
PAST COMMODORES

John Raine
John Farmer
Tom Gresham
R. Dal Rasmussen & Bobby Waldron

and by

Jim Hale

     COPYRIGHT, 1993-2016 by The University Yacht Club
All Rights Reserved

 


CHAPTER ONE

THE EARLY YEARS

 (Land Acquisition, Club House and Dock Construction)

      BY:  P.C.  JOHN RAINE

                The University Yacht Club is a unique club in that it had the money in the bank before it bought its property.  It did not have to borrow a dime.

                The club was chartered in 1951 by our founding Commodores, Robert E. (Bob) Martin, Lamar Swift, and Rufus Darby, all of who are now deceased; but all of who were active members of the Atlanta Rotary Club, an organization from which the majority of the original Yacht Club members were drawn.

                This original charter called for an initiation fee of $50 and monthly dues of $5.  At that time, Atlanta was just beginning to become a marine-minded citizenry.  Before that, the only boating activities were those of Lakemont.  With the advent of Lake Allatoona in the late 40's and the prospect of Lake Lanier in the 50's, boating enthusiasm skyrocketed in Atlanta.  The idea of a Yacht Club fitted in with this enthusiasm and many of the Rotarians figured that they should get with this U.Y.C. now because it might be difficult to become a member later on.  A lot of people joined just to be in, but were not particularly interested in boating.  It was not costly, so "why not"?

                Well, these initiation fees and dues kept coming in, and there were no out-going expenses, until 1956, some 5 years later, when we finally purchased this peninsula on Lake Lanier.  By that time, we had accumulated more funds than necessary for the land purchase.  These five years were frustrating to Bob Martin, who was the main promoter, because he felt something should be offered for their money.  In fact, he was inclined to go to Lake Allatoona that was in existence while Lake Lanier was only in the planning phase.  However, the officers and directors felt we should wait for Lake Lanier because of the prospect of it being the more desired lake.

                As Lake Lanier was under construction and becoming a reality, we would have meetings seeking property for the U.Y.C.  There was established a so-called Land Search Committee composed of Lamar Swift, Bona Allen and John Raine.  The officers and board members met several Sundays at Bona Allen's home in Buford and would get in autos and go out to see various possible sites.  Bona, being a member of the family of the well-known Bona Allen shoe and tannery factory of Buford and large property owners of the area, led us to several pieces of land.  None quite met our requirements.

                Lamar Swift and John Raine roamed many square miles of property surrounding the future of Lake Lanier on both the Cumming and Buford sides of the lake.  There was something lacking on all prospective sites.  We required property close to Atlanta, a peninsula with adjoining lake frontage adaptable to harbor and dock construction with surrounding land suitable for clubhouse and employee housing, parking and boat storage facilities and other amenities.  This was a tough order, but we prevailed until we got this perfect site.

                John Raine had a business client and friend, John Stone, who had recently exercised an option on 36 acres of land in lower Hall County that was not fit for anything, very rugged, non-productive and the farmer/owner wanted to get rid of the property.  John Raine was also familiar with the property and felt it would meet our requirements, but really did not think Stone would sell because of his plans to build on it.

                John Stone was the owner and operator of the old John Stone Parking Garage behind the old Dinkler Hotel in Atlanta.  These two Johns were boat lovers with great expectations for Lake Lanier.  Unfortunately, John Stone passed away while Swift and Raine were property hunting for the University Yacht Club.  Raine told the Board of this Stone property and its possible availability at one of the Bona Allen Sunday meetings.  So, all got into cars to go out and see this site.

                To get to the site, one had to go out the road to the old Buford Water Works, then through ford across Big Creek.  The road was unpaved and went by the present parking lot for the houseboats.  The remains of this road can still be seen above that parking area.  The road (path) proceeded on to the end of the peninsula.  When we all arrived at this point, some asked "this is great, but where is the lake?"  The lake was just beginning to fill, but could not be seen from our vantage point.  Fortunately, the Corps of Engineers was removing the trees and foliage where the lake level was expected to be.

                So after a good bit of debate, the Board asked John Raine to see if we could buy the property for $10,000 from the John Stone estate.  This presented a problem.  The property was bought by Stone and his wife, Ruth, with intentions to build a summer home there.

                Raine approached Ruth Stone, widow of John Stone, (later our beloved member, Mrs. Arthur Tufts) and encouraged her to sell the property to the University Yacht Club with her retaining approximately three acres to build a home for herself.  Raine told her there would be nice people as neighbors and that she would have the facilities of the club for her enjoyment.  This she accepted whole-heartily, and agreed to the deal.

                The executors of the Stone estate, The Fulton National Bank, (Mr. Bill Mathews) jumped at the deal.  They were selling an asset of the estate with the approval of the heirs for $10,000, having paid $3600 only two years previously.  Ruth, and the Executors (Fulton National Bank) were all enthralled with the over 300% profit.

                All was well until we realized our Charter provided for only male members -- How were we going to meet our obligation of making the Club facilities available to Ruth?  Widows of members did have the privileges of the Club, but John Stone was not a member.  So it was recommended to the Board to elect John Stone a member posthumously since John Raine had taken an application of membership from John Stone, but Stone had died before the application could be submitted to the Board for acceptance.  This was done and Ruth Stone became a widow of a member with full privileges of the club.

                The purchase of the University Yacht Club property was made legally and amicably.  Bob Martin was happy and the members were pleased.

                Now!!  The land acquired -- what about a Club House - How about docks and slips for boats?

                Lamar Swift was Commodore, and a great one!  He appointed Dr. Charles Jones as coordinator of further development, Robert Crumley as contractor for construction, and John Raine for dock construction.  For the first item of construction, Bobby Crumley placed the longest and highest utility pole obtainable, which still stands as a navigational aide at the end of the peninsula.  On July 4, 1957, we had the first gathering of the membership around this flag pole as the dedication of the University Yacht Club with Mr. William (Bill) Ellis, Chairman of the Entertaining Committee, presiding.

                That was the "kick-off."  From then on plans and construction became intense.  Pope Fuller and Bill Becket, the architects and members, drew several sketches of Club Houses and presented them to the membership at a meeting at the Piedmont Driving Club.  The plans of the first University Yacht Club house was selected.  (This building was destroyed by fire February, 1977).

                Under the direction of Dr. Charles Jones, Bobby Crumley, the contractor for building, and John Raine, dock construction, things went into "high gear."  The second thing Crumley put in was our present boat ramp, the longest on the lake, (put in before there was any water there) but the lake was filling.  The old road connecting the property and Gaines Ferry Road, had to be made usable.  An old dwelling had to be rebuilt as a manager's residence and an additional residence was built (the present asst. manager's house) for the dock master.

                By the fall of 1957, the lake was rising to come into view and members were getting boats.  The necessity of docking and storage of boats became apparent.  Although there had been an accumulation of funds from initiation fees and dues, as mentioned before, we were now spending money as if it were "going out of style."  As expected, the expenses for Club House construction, site improvement, well digging and installation, etc. were beginning to exceed these accumulated funds.  Fortunately, Bobby Martin had anticipated this additional expense and encouraged the Board to amend the charter to provide a member/stock ownership of the U.Y.C.

                This amendment called for each member to own one share at $300 and only members could be shareholders.  Thus, we obtained the necessary funds to finance all activities except the construction of boat-berthing facilities.

                The dock construction committee felt it unfair to use club funds to finance dock construction for individual boat owner/members.  Therefore, the committee came up with the plan still in existence, whereby the individual boat owner would advance to the club the funds required for building his boat dock.  This was treated as "rent payment in advance" with ownership vesting in the Club.  These docks were arranged to amortize in approximately 4 years.  After that time, they became the principal source of the Club's income.  The original docks were expected to last 20 years.  Now some 40 years later, some are still used as some of the preferable facilities.  This was a very successful plan that really protected our capital improvement funds, and is still used today when new docks are needed.

                Most of these docks were designed for the cruiser and smaller powered boats.  Soon came the sailors and the new fad of houseboats.  Although the sailors and the "stink potters" surprisingly became speaking acquaintance, still not too friendly, all cooperated for development of dock facilities.

                These vessels did not require covered slips, particularly the sailboats.  The house boaters wanted partially covered slips for their dock parties.  This presented somewhat of a design problem.  This problem created the Dock Committee opinions that houseboats would never become popular -- "if you want a house, build a house -- if you want a boat, get a boat."  The popularity of houseboats later proved how wrong the Dock Committee was.  We later built several houseboat slips, subsequently combined into what is now Dock "C".

                All was progressing admirably; the lake was filling, construction of the clubhouse was nearing completed, members were bringing their boats to the Club, management was in place and enthusiasm was terrific.

                During clubhouse construction, the Corps of Engineers were much more cooperative than today, but we still had problems since the clubhouse was on Corps property under a 20-year lease.  We were very fortunate in that we had several very influential and prominent members, one of whom was the recent Mr. Clair Harris, a very talented financer in Atlanta and an outstanding textile manufacturer in Winder, Ga.  Mr. Harris was a close friend of Senator Richard Russell of Winder, Ga.  There are recollections of approval of property alterations, which had been denied by the Corps only to be approved later as a result of discussion with Mr. Harris, we believe.  One example is the leveling of the area between the old and new clubhouse and another is the grading of the road going along the lake between the Dock Office and the Clubhouse.

                Everything was going fine.  Money was coming in, docks were being built, clubhouse use at the max, and there was a waiting list for new members.  Our charter allowed only 250 members and then one day we suddenly realized that we had sold 300 shares.  An emergency membership meeting was called.  We amended the charter to permit 325 members but, by board decision, we limited the membership to 300.

                As previously mentioned, there were some of the original members who were not convinced that boating was their desired hobby.  They had retained their membership but failed to buy the $300 share of stock.  These became the U.Y.C. Associates.  Realizing they were entitled to something for all their dues and initiation fee, we permitted them the use of the clubhouse.  Shortly thereafter, the Associates magnanimously released their claim to any funds and their right to any of the club privileges and dissolved.  The member/stock ownership plan became a real problem.  There had been a few deaths and their executors were in a quandary as to the estate's rights and disposition of the stock.  The decision was that our stock was illegally issued.

                In view of the impossibility of the situation, our then Commodore Jackson P. Dick, called for a membership meeting and eloquently persuaded more than the required two-thirds of stockholder/members to retire the stock.  The understanding was that any new member would be required to pay an initiation fee of $350 plus tax, the same total initiation fee and stock purchase investment the original members had made.

                In the late 50's and early 60's, the club was very popular.  There were many parties and other activities well attended.  A youth camp was installed.  Children were picked up daily at E. Rivers School in the mornings and taken by bus to U.Y.C. where they were taught sailing, seamanship, swimming and all other water sports.  They had lunch at the club and were returned by the chartered busses back to E. Rivers School.  A lot of lasting friendships were made at this day camp.

                In the early years, the Johnson properties (adjoining the U.Y.C. property) were auctioned off.  John Raine read about this auction and attended with the intention of getting this land which would "land lock" the later government development of Burton Mill Park.  To accomplish this, it would be necessary for the U.Y.C. to own the 10 lots being auctioned.  Since there was no authorization to bid in the U.Y.C. name, Raine (in his own name) bought the 10 lots for a total of $3,300.  The club was then offered to purchase these lots for the same amount from Raine and thus became the owner of all land surrounding Burton Mill Park.  (It is hoped that the U.S. will declare Burton Mill as surplus property with U.Y.C. having the "right of refusal" of purchasing from the U.S. since the U.Y.C. is the owner of the adjoining property).  With the exception of a small strip of land that adjoins Burton Mill, the 10 lots have been sold to members for over $6,500 each.  Nice profit!! (Over $65,000 for only $3,300).

                During the first years of the club, we were constantly making improvements: A new manager's home was built, harbor dredging and rip-raping shoreline was an on-going project, here again, the Corps granted us rights which would not be approved today, except for the pre-mentioned influence of some of our members.  The dock house was built and enlarged, the dry storage sheds were built, and the parking areas were enlarged.

                After we had obtained the Johnson Property, the Corps wanted to build Burton Mill Park but had no land access to the planned park except to go through our land.  We made a deal in which we gave approval of an easement if the Corps would give U.Y.C. the use of some of their land, which is now used for our trailer storage area.  That area was made level from the silt of our dredging activities.

                This recollection is primarily about the land acquisition and building the clubhouse and docks.  The club was constantly improved upon up to February 1977 when the original clubhouse was totally destroyed by fire.  Those who were involved with the construction of the new and present clubhouse can more ably continue this treatise.  It is known that there were many obstacles and problems of great interest in this project that, perhaps, should be recorded.