VIDEO Macatawa Bay Yacht Club makes way for new clubhouse
Dennis R.J. Geppert/Sentinel Staff
Demolition on the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club began Wednesday morning. The structure needed to be razed to make way for a new building.
Macatawa Bay Yacht Club has a long history in Holland, and it continued Wednesday with the demolition of its clubhouse to make way for the new.
The 114-year-old yacht club will build a new clubhouse before the next sailing season begins on Memorial Day 2014, officials said.
“We’re not looking to grow our membership. We’re just looking to take care of the membership we have,” General Manager Julie Vanderveer said.
The Macatawa Bay Yacht Club was founded in 1899 by mostly from Chicago and Grand Rapids natives, said Shirley Weersing, who has been the club’s historian since 1999. Among them was "Wizard of Oz" writer L. Frank Baum, who was the club director in 1904.
The original clubhouse burned to the ground July 5, 1963. The following year, the club reopened with a new building, the one being replaced now.
Just how that happened is a matter for debate among club members. The date makes many believe it was a firework that started the fire. Others say the fire marshal pointed to an electrical issue.
“We found out recently we could not put enough into it to keep it going. It was going to fall down around our ears,” Weerrsing said.
When the 100-year floodplain was revised, the clubhouse fell so far below it, flood insurance would have been required for almost any renovations.
Instead, the club members voted almost unanimously earlier this year to tear down the 49-year-old building and replace it, but at a higher elevation.
“It’s basically the same footprint,” Vanderveer said.
The newest clubhouse should be ready by opening day next year, officials said. It will be designed to match other buildings on the property that house the Macatawa Bay Junior Yacht Club and the Macatawa Bay Junior Association building, the club’s nonprofit youth sailing school.
Some existing memorabilia will be refurbished and installed in the new clubhouse such as the 50-year-old bar made of solid mahogany and made to look like the stern of a ship.
The new building will be two stories with a walkout deck and scenic viewers for members and guests to look east into Lake Macatawa or west toward the Big Lake.
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