Brief History of the
Sing Sing, later know as Ossining, was an
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
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
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.
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
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
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".
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.