September 3, 2014
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Gala kickstarts Edgewood Yacht Club building fund

More than two years ago, on a snowy January morning, the iconic Edgewood Yacht Club burned to the pilings. Now, the club is poised to rise from the ashes.

As designs are finalized for a new building, the Edgewood Yacht Club continues fundraising for its future home with a gala dinner-dance, “Charting Our Future,” on Saturday, March 9 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet.

“We’re finally getting to the point where we’re seeing something happening. By 2014, we’ll have a fully functional building, no doubt,” said Bill Plumb, a longtime club member who is helping to coordinate the event with his wife, Nancy.

The black tie optional dinner-dance begins with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The gala will feature live music by Nancy Paolino and the Black Tie Band, as well as a silent auction and a grand prize raffle that includes a luxury vacation for two and a diamond necklace. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on a kayak, framed prints, a boat ride, an airplane ride and more.

There will be a brief speaking program, but Plumb said the focus would be on celebrating the club’s past and its bright future. They have sent out nearly 700 invitations and are hoping for a turnout of more than 300 club members, supporters and those who want to see a clubhouse resurrected off Shaw Avenue.

“The more, the merrier,” Plumb said.

That has been the attitude since Jan. 12, 2011, when an electrical fire tore through the Edgewood Yacht Club around 3:40 a.m., at the height of a major snowstorm. In the days and weeks that followed, the club received an outpouring of support, well beyond its membership. Rhode Islanders past and present shared their stories of dances, weddings and first dates at the clubhouse.

Social membership applications came pouring in, directing money into a building fund to replace the clubhouse that was built in 1908 to accommodate the Edgewood Yacht Club, which was originally founded in 1885. Plumb estimates that the club has 175 social members and another 125 full club members.

“We’ve probably increased our social memberships by maybe threefold,” he said.

Plumb, a former commodore, was not surprised in the least.

“It was the memories of a lot of people who grew up there. It’s people who, back years ago, went to the dances that were held every Friday night,” he said. “There are an awful lot of people who started in the sailing school, joined the yacht club and got involved in boating.”

Despite the fire in 2011, the docks at Edgewood were spared, and the Sailing School continued to flourish, thanks in part to support from the Brown University Sailing School. Brown did not move their sailing team elsewhere and instead shared a temporary building on site with the EYC.

Last year, the adult and junior sailing programs sold out at Edgewood. Still, a permanent home is needed for programs and membership to continue to grow.

That building might not be too far off. The board was scheduled to meet with a builder on Monday to discuss plans. After the design is finalized and approved by the building committee, the club will begin the permitting process and start work on the pilings as early as September. Plumb believes that the clubhouse should be up and running by Opening Day in 2014.

Rhode Islanders who fell in love with the original clubhouse and its weekly dances can expect a building not unlike its predecessor.

“We will be building the entire building over the water, as the former building was,” Plumb said. “It’ll be nice to see us get a clubhouse back again.”

He added that the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council has been accessible and accommodating as the club has moved through this process. With a building over the water, CRMC is instrumental for approval, and Plumb does not anticipate any major roadblocks from the organization.

Funding, of course, is always a concern. Plumb would not say how much the clubhouse would likely cost, but he did say that some fundraising would be necessary. To date, the building fund has roughly $350,000 in its coffers, according to Plumb.

“There has to be some fundraising over and above what we received from the insurance company,” he said.

Tickets to the March 9 event are $100 per person, or $1,000 per table. Anyone who purchases a table will receive a gift. So far, Plumb says the response has been “very good.”

“We’re also accepting donations toward the building fund if you cannot make the event,” he said.

For more information or to purchase a ticket call 527-2009 or e-mail billplumb@hotmail.com.


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