The White River Yacht Club traces its roots to March 16, 1938 when a small group of area boaters filed articles of incorporation with the Indiana Secretary of State to create the North White River Club.
After an intermediate name change to White River Boaters Associates, the Club in 1947 adopted the permanent name of White River Yacht Club.
The Club held its first meetings in members' homes and docked boats at the Old Green City Boathouse near Broad Ripple Park, or at docks of members living along the river. From these small beginnings, the Club has progressed to its present condition through years of struggle and hard work by members.
On Easter Sunday of 1947, Smith Island, the present ten acre home of WRYC, became its permanent site. Members began immediately to restore the summer home located on the grounds, doing the work themselves, and financing the first mortgages, all fully retired in 1952. That year also saw the addition of the large boat-launching hoist just north of the clubhouse, erected by club members, and in 1957 the metal launching ramp south of the clubhouse was added. Cost for these projects were borne by members and additional income from boat-launching fees.
The purchase of a bulldozer in 1978 afforded many improvements, especially to the Club grounds and their appearance. The filling of the slough and the leveling of many low-lying areas of the grounds were now possible.
In late 1979, the main entrance drive from 74th Street to the Club parking area was blacktopped.
Several important improvements were made in 1980 and 1981, including the new bar, new heating and air-conditioning systems, new thermo pane windows in the bar, complete chain link fencing of the grounds, vinyl awnings on the clubhouse, and much beautification of the grounds and outdoor recreation areas. In 1982 the new solid oak deck was added to the river side of the concrete patio.
During 1983 and early 1984, our clubhouse was vastly improved by the demolition of the kitchen portion of the clubhouse. This allowed us to build a large two-story addition to the clubhouse, greatly expanding our kitchen and storage for liquor and beverages. It also gave us room for another entrance on the east side of our building leading into a hallway with entrances to the new men's and women's restroom facilities and a new coat room. This entrance also has a ramp for handicap access. While we had a contractor erect the outer shell, much of the interior was done by members who gave their time and expertise generously.
We dedicated the new addition to Art Augustine, a past Commodore and founding member, who gave so much of himself to our Club and its betterment. Generally 1984 was a "catch-your-breath and enjoy-your-club" type of year at the White River Yacht Club, after consecutive years of high-pressure projects.
Continued Growth, Final Touches
During the years of 1984 and 1985, the Club put final touches on the clubhouse construction. Possibly the most important was the continued work and installation of new equipment in the kitchen. In other acts of progress, the Club created a safety committee and established new banking practices to benefit the Club.
In 1986 the Club erected a sixty-foot radio tower and took initial steps towards becoming a Marine base radio station. Major accomplishments in 1986 include extensive remodeling of the bar and dining rooms and creation of a committee to plan long-range improvement programs for the Club.
The year 1987 brought about two major changes which proved long-range to be very beneficial:
1) a 144-foot totally roofed patio (to be enclosed later) was installed
2) the Board of Directors hired a full-time Club Manager.
During 1988 and the beginning of 1989 many significant happenings took place starting with a full-time kitchen with cook. Next came the removal of the Landmark Gantry, which had been inoperative for many years. The Grounds Committee started a bank erosion salvation program by applying #1 and #2 gravel. The boat launching ramp was changed from soft gravel to concrete. Our full-time kitchen with chef and bar was approved for seven days a week operation. Finally, thanks to EPA, we removed our underground gas tank and installed an above ground tank.
In 1989 and early 1990 two significant events took place:
1) The 144-foot patio was decked with railing installed and temporary canvas siding.
2) Constitutional changes were approved to provide for the election of Officers in August with installation in September.
1992-1993 - many changes were implemented at the Club. A new, expanded riverside deck was constructed, a new concrete sidewalk was added around the perimeter of the south deck and the handicap parking area was paved. Major improvements were made to improve the air quality inside the club and a new air conditioning unit was installed. The outside of the clubhouse was newly painted and the interior received a new face lift.
Commodore Dave Fox traveled to Washington, D.C. at the invitation of the White House to accept an award for our efforts in River Clean-up.
1995 - a brand new boat ramp was installed at the south end.
1996 - the new restroom construction was completed. The rest of the addition to the bar room and kitchen will be completed in phases. An almost new 16” x 16” walk-in cooler and freezer was donated to the Club by Meredith Smith. An old landmark, the sycamore tree on the river side of the deck, was found to be in bad shape and had to be removed for the safety of members, guests and club structures.
1998 - the addition of a new 20’ x 40’ shelter house built on the north end of the grounds. The entire parking lot and road south to the Club ramp was paved.
1999 - the long awaited expansion of the bar room finally got underway; the Grand Opening was held in October, 1999.
2003 - -the kitchen was remodeled.
2004 - a new Point Of Sale system was introduced to assist in customer service and inventory control.
2006-2007 - broke ground for the new sewer system. Our manager, Christ Ladas, retired after 13 years of service. The club raucously celebrated the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl Championship.
2008 - The Club purchased a new John Deere tractor for grounds maintenance. Sadly, during a summer storm, two trees fell and destroyed the Shelter House on the north end of the property. Due to the generous donations and hard work of it's members the Shelter House was rebuilt even better than before. A new “Walk-In” Cooler and Freezer was installed.
The White River Yacht Club had a grand event to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of our founding with a fantastic party.
2011 - The Corporate body voted to increase the regular membership cap to 450 from 400. Doing so has opened up membership to those on the everlasting waiting list and increases club revenue. At this time a by-law was also passed to cut off the waiting list at 100 people, not to re-open until it went under 50 people. This was necessary to help the volunteer membership chairs maintain the list and facilitate the process of bringing in new members.
2013 - The corporate body voted to add a new category of membership, "Temporary Members" All persons in the top 50 of the waiting list are offered the opportunity to pay an annual fee to become a Temporary Member. Although all privileges of Corporate or Regular members are not extended to this new category, these members may visit the club as desired. An added bonus is that this gives these people an opportunity to get to know other members which is beneficial upon reading for regular membership.
2014 - The White River Yacht Club Foundation was established with the help of Dave Hoover. A public charity for educational and charitable purposes.
The awning at our main entrance was replaced providing a much more comfortable entrance into the club during inclement weather.
2015 - In the spring the North House received a total interior remodel, including a new kitchen and windows. The exterior got a fresh coat of paint to complete the makeover.
22 dead trees that posed potential threats to people and or property on the grounds, were removed and another 47 were trimmed or dead wooded.
During the summer, new siding was put on the riverside of the dining/meeting room. In the fall a new roof was put on the entire facility.
2016 - The Board of Directors approved the purchase of a software package that is specifically designed for private clubs such as the WRYC. This software will provide a multitude of benefits to all club members and the staff.
2017 - Many much needed updates were made to the interior of the club; new rolling chairs for the dining room and bar, new doors were installed between the bar & the dining room, painting of the dining room and bar area, new flooring installed in the entry and hallways. Along with hours of time from many of our members who graciously volunteered their services and expertise to help keep this club running as smoothly as possible.
2018 - With the financial donation of one of the club's many generous members custom bar stools were purchased.
2019 - Cleared out the entire kitchen to repair and upgrade the flooring base then installed a new commercial tile kitchen floor. During this 2 week process the WRYC remained open for business and our staff kept cooking in challenging temporary quarters. In February a new club manager was hired, Steve Graham who hit the ground running with the floor installation in March.