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Oldest Knickerbocker Yacht Club Already Demolished…….Port Washington, New York

We are sad to hear that the Knickerbocker Yacht Club building in Port Washington, New York is going to be demolished, as the organization, itself, folded in 2009 after 135 years.  Surviving since its founding in 1874 on the Harlem River in Manhattan, the most recent economic downtown in America has devastated the organization to the point that it has closed its doors.  As a result of its closure, the building itself, at 433 Main Street, Port Washington, New York, will also be subject to sale and, apparently, demolition for development–for progress.  However, the current building, constructed in the early twenieth century, was not the first in Port Washington.

Knickerbocker Yacht Club, Port Washington, New York

From its original location in Manhattan on the Harlem River, the club moved first to Port Morris in the Bronx, then to College Point in Queens, and finally removed to Port Washington in 1907.  The building shown above was used in the club’s early days on Manhasset Bay.  The photographs in this post depict a modest craftsman-era building with the shingled siding that was most popular in New England, but also managed to trickle down the eastern sea board and is still used, although synthetically, in beach-side building today.  The building shown above was either greatly altered or demolished prior to the completion of the current “to-be-demolished” building in 1921.

Interior Knickerbocker Yacht Club, Port Washington, New York

The sparse interior shown above was typical of these “new” semi-public spaces used by more modest private clubs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Note the duplicated rockers and sitting chairs in the photograph that appear on each side of the fireplace.  These photographs were obviously taken shortly after the founding of the club in Port Washington in 1907.  Prominantly displayed above the corbeled mantel is a “key” that was presented to the organization, which reads: “Welcome K.Y.C. Port Jefferson.”   The hand tinted ribbons indicate that the key is a recent acquisition as celebratory textiles of this sort are short lived in such environments.  Please also note the nautical theme present in the andirons and the bead board paneling in the room.

While we are sorry that this quaint building did not survive, we are even sorrier to see its successor demolished as the physical replacement will certainly be greatly inferior not only in quality, but in architectural merit.

The photographs shown above were taken by Henry K. Landis (1865-1955), a seasonal resident at Port Washington in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  An editor and engineer by profession, Landis was a serious amateur photographer in the line of Alice Austen (1866-1952).  The photographs shown above are examples of his work in the early twenieth century.  A book on Landis, as a photographer, by Oscar Beisert and Irwin Richman, Ph.D. will be published by Stackpole Books in the coming year.  Henry K. Landis was also a member of the Knickbocker Yacht Club.  These photographs were no doubt a product of his pride.

4 Responses to “Oldest Knickerbocker Yacht Club Already Demolished…….Port Washington, New York”
  1. Hi, I am doing a story on the new development at the site of the former KYC. Can you tell me if you had permission to reproduce these photos and how I would go about getting permission? Thanks, Diane Schubach

  2. admin says:

    I am in the midst of working on a book on Henry K. Landis, a photographer. The book focuses on his photography. If you want, I can check with the museum that owns these photographs, and see what it costs to get scans of them. Actually, I also have a photograph of the building just after it was built…

  3. Meg says:

    Looking for late 19th century or early 20th century information on the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, especially in College Point, NY. Also, looking for a copy of the centennial history book published in 1974. Does anyone have a copy? Thanks much!

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