In 1937, the founding members of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club consisted of a group of boating enthusiasts and Island cottage owners. The Yacht Club had a ten-year lease for a small dock with the Mackinac Island State Park and the members planned to construct a small building on the shore for use as a clubhouse. In the spring of 1938, the cottage across the street from the dock was listed for sale, and the members knew it would be a perfect building for their fledgling Yacht Club. They quickly arranged to purchase the cottage from George W. Sweeney.
The home was originally built in 1901 by William E. Hitchcock and Mr. Sweeney became its fourth owner when he acquired it in 1920. Like many of the cottages on Mackinac Island, this building was on Mackinac Island State Park property, and a new lease for the lot was required to finalize the sale to the members of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club. The new lease now covered the dock and the Sweeney cottage at a cost of $100.00 per year, or $1,689.00 in today’s dollars.
The following decades would bring many changes to the Yacht Club: the loss of the leased dock, the shuttering of the Club during WWII, interior renovations and new additions, a declining membership in the 1950s continuing into the 1980s, creating financial setbacks that were difficult to overcome. These are just a few of the many challenges that contributed to the rich history of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club.
The full history, published by the Mackinac Island Yacht Club, is detailed in a 2013 book, titled “Mackinac Island Yacht Club 1937 – 2012; Celebrating Seventy Five Years.” This book provides fresh, tantalizing insights, and personal stories from members offering a view into the world of the Yacht Club in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s. It also highlights the steps taken to revitalize the Club into the amazing and remarkable Yacht Club it is today. This book is now available for purchase. Please call the staff at (906) 847-3363.