Club History  ~ Shattemuc through the Years

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A Brief History


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A Brief History of the

Sing Sing, later know as Ossining, was an old river town and a minor center of commerce for early farmers wishing to send their harvest to New York City. Their goods were transported to the City by sloop, later by steam boat and then by railroad. River commerce continued throughout the nineteenth century, even after the railroad was built. Ship building, passenger ferries and cargo transport were key components of the town's maritime activities during this period. It is not surprising then, that competent watermen were numerous in the area and that recreational boating existed since early times.

Ante-Bellum Roots. Shattemuc's roots can be traced to the old Sing Sing Yacht Club, which held its first regatta in 1858. That club raced cat boats and sloops using sand bags and bricks for ballast. The boats were raced by their owners, and challengers came to test their mettle and to bet large sums against the fastest boat of the Club, the Hester Ann. The old Yacht Club dissolved after the Civil War, and organized boat racing at Sing Sing waned accordingly. Sandbaggers still raced informally, as did ice boats in the winter.

Shattemuc Canoe Club. Canoes became popular in America after the Civil War. By the late 1870s a group of local men gathered on summer weekends for paddling, sailing and informal racing. As prosperity increased, the local canoeists and winter ice boaters became more numerous, and informal racing increased. In the early 1880's there was talk of organizing a club. The canoeists, some of whom were also ice boaters, formed the Shattemuc Canoe Club on June 20th or 28th, 1884, taking their name from an old Indian word for the River. They initially met at Wheelers Dock, on the waterfront west of the present railroad station, and later at Camilla Dock, owned by their Commodore, Franklin Brandreth.. Shattemuc quickly became one of the leading canoe clubs of the State, holding many regattas for trophies and prizes offered by local patrons. In 1887 the Shattemuc hosted the Annual Spring Meet of the Hudson River Canoeists at nearby Croton Point.

Sing Sing Boat Club. Local patrons also sponsored races for the sail boat fleet. The first of these races was held in 1885 for five boats, all under 24 feet in length. A second race was held the following year and more the third year. Following the last race of 1887, a trio of Sing Singers decided it was time to form a club, and within two weeks the Sing Sing Boat Club was organized. Its first meeting was held on October 25th, 1887. The new club met at Camilla Dock and grew rapidly, absorbing many members of the Shattemuc Canoe Club. Ralph Brandreth was elected their first Commodore, and Stuyvesant Gibson served as the acting Commodore.

Sing Sing Yacht Club Buoyed by their enthusiasm and growing enrollment, the members of the new boat club decided to incorporate. On December 18th, 1888 the Sing Sing Yacht Club was established to "encourage aquatic sports, yacht building and the cultivating of naval science and promote the social, physical and moral condition of its members". The Boat Club was formally disbanded in favor of the Yacht Club, and Ralph Brandreth was re-elected Commodore.

Sing Sing's first clubhouse was built in the spring of 1889 by Ralph Brandreth on his waterfront property. It was little more than a boathouse on a pier connected to shore by a bridge. It had two-stories, a timber frame and a tin roof. The boathouse was lengthened in 1890 or '95, and extensively renovated in 1907. Its distinctive tower was added at that time and it became a noted landmark along the River.

Club interests evolved during this time. Sailing canoes and ice boats gave way to sandbaggers, keelboats and then power launches. With the advent of powerboats and powerboat racing at the Sing Sing Yacht Club, organized sailboat racing passed to the Ossining Yacht Club, whose members split off from the former Club and purchased all of their fast yachts.

Re-organized Canoe Club. In 1896 the call went out to re-organize the old canoe club. In that year the former Shattemuc Canoe Club members once again raised their blue and white burgee and attended organized regattas under the auspices of the American Canoeists Association.

Shattemuc Yacht & Canoe Club. In 1901 the village of Sing Sing changed its name to Ossining to distinguish itself from the nearby penal institution. Not wanting to be mis-associated with the Sing Sing Prison, the Sing Sing Yacht Club voted to change its name also. There already being an "Ossining Yacht Club", they consolidated with the Canoe Club in 1902, crossing Sing Sing's red and white signal with Shattemuc's blue and white burgee to make a duel emblem, and become the Shattemuc Yacht and Canoe Club. The Canoe Club became as a "wheel within a wheel, keeping its place among canoe clubs and its members in the American Canoeists Association".

In 1903 the clubhouse and property were purchased from their former Commodore, Ralph Brandreth. The Ossining Yacht Club had closed by this time, and many of its members rejoined and invigorated the Shattemuc Yacht and Canoe Club.

Power boating grew so popular since the turn of the century that by 1910 none of the younger club members had any sailing experience. In that year the Club joined with fifteen like minded clubs along the River to form a new, one-design class association of sailboats to race under the auspices of the new Hudson River Yacht Racing Association. In that year the Club built a 21 foot sloop, designed by Mower, and christened her "Shattemuc". The "Shattemuc" raced one-design Mowers from other clubs for many years and was generally successful. In 1913 a number of club members built 20 foot Indian Class sailboats for intra-club youth racing, a prelude to Shattemuc's present Sailing Academy for Juniors, which started its fleet of 420s in the 1960's.

The beautiful Shattemuc clubhouse was totally destroyed by fire in January 1914. Plans were immediately made to rebuild it, and within a few months a two story boathouse was found in Oscawanna. It was purchased and moved by barge to the club's property. The boathouse was rolled onto its new foundations, raised one level and renovated to become a three story clubhouse.

Another crisis faced the members of Shattemuc during the Depression of the 1930's. The paid up membership had slipped from over 100 to 11. The club could not continue to exist with such a small membership and the small band of members started a drive for new blood. Robert M Akin Jr., who spear-headed the drive for members, was successful in his quest and was kept on as Commodore of the club for the next nine years. The paid up membership increased during those years and reached 150 during the second World War.

Member servicemen, during both World War II and the Korean conflict, found Shattemuc ready to welcome them home with open arms. All servicemen on leave who were members of the club could eat and drink at the club, free. In 1945 the name was shortened to the Shattemuc Yacht Club, and the single red burgee was adopted.

The old clubhouse served the members for 60 years until it, too, was destroyed by fire in an early morning blaze on November 30th, 1973. The club then moved its headquarters to the "Circle liner". The Circle liner was originally a WWII naval LCI or Landing Craft Infantry ship. It later became one of the classic New York City tour boats and finally came to rest at the Club as a breakwater for Shattemuc's marina. The club acquired it, less engines, from a scrap dealer for $1 and towed her to Ossining in November 1971. The Circle liner, as she was affectionately called, was fitted out as a social center. Following the clubhouse fire of 1973, she was commissioned as the new clubhouse and served that role for the next 23 years.

Shattemuc broke ground for the present clubhouse in October 1995. This two story building sits on the shore of the Hudson River and boasts a commanding view of the marina backed by a spectacular Hudson panorama from Croton Point to beyond the Tappan Zee Bridge. The clubhouse is styled as a pre-colonial Dutch manor house with its first floor and wide, covered porch on piers above flood level. Like its predecessors, the present building offers an upper level piazza to view the river.


From its early roots as an ante-bellum yacht club, through its later involvement in canoeing, ice boating, sandbagger sailing, and power boat racing, the club has expressed the nautical interests of its village. Its history is a rich tapestry of aquatic endeavors, from recreational boating to organized racing, public entertainments, sailing instruction for juniors, swimming, benefits events, promoting safe boating and a varied social program.