History of Masons Island

Masons Island Yacht Club History

Cyrus Henry “Harry” Loutrel came to the island in 1921. From the start, he took an active part in island life. On May 2, 1928, he called a meeting at the Essex Club in Newark for the adoption of a Constitution and By-laws for the Club. The
incorporators were: Henry Allen, W. Ellery Allyn, H. Schuyler Horn, C.H. Loutrel, Herbert M. Stoops and Charles A. Van Winkle.

The first officers and trustees were:

  • Commodore  – C.H. Loutrel
  • Vice-Commodore  – Thomas B. Enders
  • Rear-Commodore  – Walter H. Lathrop
  • Secretary  – H. Schuyler Horn
  • Treasurer C.A. Van Winkle

Other Trustees were Henry Allen, W.E. Allyn and Herbert M. Stoops

Active membership then included both residents and non-residents. It was provided that an officer of the Mason’s Island Company should be one of the trustees. One vote called for the issue of $15,000 in bonds at 5% interest, never fully subscribed. Other votes were for building a clubhouse not to exceed $7,000 with tennis courts not to exceed $1,000 and a dock not to exceed $500. One of the old Fish Works piers formed part of the dock. The Company donated two tracts of land, one for the club building and the other for tennis courts. It took only another $2,000 appropriation to finish the clubhouse. The building had a large high-ceilinged room with a great stone fireplace, seldom used except for cigarette butts, a dining room facing the water, a kitchen and locker rooms. On the second floor was a room for the help, and two rooms to rent. One of the early occupants was the newly married Warren Clarks, Mary and “Red.” The
employees’ main duties were keeping house and running the restaurant. It was expected that family and friends would teach the children how to sail, swim and play tennis.

As might have been expected, the restaurant always ran a deficit, in spite of several lunches and teas. Harry Loutrel usually made up the difference. There was a dance every Saturday night. Beginning in 1934, Francis Fain and his band provided the music. He still plays at the present club on special occasions. As also might be expected, there was soon agitation for the club to have a liquor license. It was finally resolved to keep it a family club with no license.

A Mason’s Island One-design sloop was proposed. It turned out to be a first-class twenty-seven foot open cockpit day sailer. Five were built, for Ralph Halsey, Harry Loutrel, Alex Murray, Jr., Herb Stoops and Charlie Van Winkle.

This class was joined by 18 Foot Cape Cod Knockabouts, numbering about a dozen. For the “speed freaks,” several members bought 16 Foot Sea Sleds built at West Mystic, which were powered by 16 horse Johnson outboard motors. All classes raced on Saturdays, and some in the middle of the week.

One of the annual events was “Racing Starts,” to provide competition among all the sailboats. It has been continued ever since. Another race was designed to teach young children how to handle boats properly. It started with all the boats tied to the dock with sails furled. At the starting gun, the crew jumped into the boats, raised the sails, cast off, and headed for the first mark. At another gun signal, a member of the crew leaped overboard, was rescued, and the boat proceeded on its way. At the finish, the boats had to be properly tied to the dock, sails furled, lines coiled and crews ashore, all to the satisfaction of the committee, before the winner was announced.

The original local family members and bondholders in 1927 were:

Henry C. Allen
Elizabeth I. Gill
Edward Ryan
Gurdon S. Allyn
Philip Z. Hankey
Y.E. Soderberg
Louis M. Allyn
Rowland Haynes
Charles K. Stillman
Louis P. Allyn
H. Schuyler Horn
Herbert M. Stoops
W. Ellery Allyn
James W. Lathrop
Arthur W. Van Winkle
Kenneth Bates
Walter H. Lathrop
Charles Van Winkle
Clifford H. Belden
Cyrus H. Loutrel
Charles A. Van Winkle
Murray P. Bewley
Charles P. Maxson
Stirling Van Winkle
Edward E. Bradley
Herman E. Myers
Theodore Van Winkle
G. Fred Brown
Lloyd R. Moore
Charles E. Wheeler
Harry C. Cornwall
Alexander Murray, Jr.
G.W. Blunt White
John C. Debrot
William R. Palmer
John P. Wilbur
Thomas B. Enders
Franklin G. Post
Warren H. Young
Garrett Price

Quoted from “Major John Mason’s Great Island”
By James H. Allyn
Copyright @ 1976
with permission of Roy N. Bohlander.