Monday, February 11, 2013

MHYC - A Retrospect

Organized in July 1928 the evolution of one of Lake Erie's premier yacht clubs is just another hidden gem in the history of Lake County.  Nestled in on Coronada Drive in Mentor-on-the-Lake, the history of the Mentor Harbor Yacht Club is long and detailed.  From its inception in 1928 the MHYC survived the Crash of 29, another eight Depression Era years, then the lean war years and finally like the phoenix morphed into its current form.

 The Early Years -  The Marsh and natural harbor areas were home to Native American tribes in the early part of history.  The discovery of bog iron in the late eighteenth century led to a timbered road and vision of commercialization.  This Headlands West road to the Herrick Farm even included an incomplete highway bridge, whose remnants are still known to area residents.  By the early 19th century the marsh and harbor began to assume some of its current appearance.  An ill-fated attempt to establish a railroad line and marsh based harbor link fell victim to legal wrangling.  This period of history of Richmond and Grand River has been documented in Local Lore previously.

The 1920s -  While the harbor area failed to achieve any profitable business gains, a new vision was ushered in.  The 1920s had offered a glimpse of a Venice-like harbor community in Florida.  This idea was promoted locally and a movement was undertaken.  S. Livingston Mather, James Murphy, Donald McBride, E. Nash Matthews and Roy S. Dunham were the early visionaries.  In time Chester A. Bolton, Edward B. Greene, Louise S. Ingalls, H.H. Timken, E.J.Johnson, Samuel Mather and F.A. Pease came on board. While location is everything, their timing was another thing.  Events in history and economic uncertainities caused their project to stall out.  By 1934 liens against the development and properties were in effect.  In 1935 the harbor and boating club had only 200 members and 90 boats on record.  The year 1936 proved to be a turning point and a phoenix-like effect blew over the shores.  The MHYC swelled to 140 boats.  Within eight years harbor improvements were made.  A crane was added and survived until 2001.  The MHYC was viable and growth inevitable.

An Era of Growth -  The post war years saw continued growth in both club membership and harbor improvements.  The decades from 1960-80 saw much expansion.  A clubhouse, pool, porch, additional out buildings, and t-docks were added.  The 1990s saw bulkhead improvements, lighting, and a gas dock building come to be.  A picnic pavilion and east beach improvements followed.  Today the MHYC not only celebrates its past history but invites county residents to join and participate in a family oriented boating community.  Eighty-five years may have passed since  S. Livingston Mather envisioned a harbor community development, but it has like the phoenix survived the ravages of its early history to be firmly in place in 2013.

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