By MARY HURSH
In 2001, area architect John Foster Call provided the Wawasee Yacht Club board of directors with a set of drawings to renovate the existing clubhouse to allow for a larger membership, an expanding regatta schedule and a growing youth sailing program.
The design included an improved kitchen featuring wood cathedral ceilings and beams and indirect lighting; new tiled bathrooms; a larger porch area with the same white exposed frame ceiling and painted concrete floors as members always enjoyed; and a second-floor conference room with a refrigerator and sink and sliding glass doors leading out to a large, roofed deck. A new screened walkway along the side of the club, new entry doors and an expanded sail loft filled out the features of the Call design. Lap siding on the lower level and cedar shingles on the upper level gave the facility a nautical look.
Club member Bill Herdrich chaired the membership-wide capital campaign which brought in monies to cover the $225,000 project. Included in the amount were amounts to bury overhead power lines, enlarge and improve parking, landscaping, furniture and re-roofing and painting the cubby building.
Twenty years later, shortly after Syracuse resident and Lightning sailor Brad Wagnon became the club’s commodore in September 2015, Bill Allen, club race chairman and fellow Lightning sailor, was asked to investigate the possibilities of replacing the screened-in porch designed by Call with a large three-season porch. Before retiring, Allen was a product designer and CAD system group manager for General Motors Corporation. “The intent of the addition was to provide shelter for regatta attendees in case of inclement weather and to hold more social functions including the awards program at the end of the season,” said Allen.
“My goal was to create a porch structure which maintains the appearance of the original porch while complimenting the existing structure,” said Allen. Using AutoCAD, Chief Architect Pro and SketchUp, Allen began creating a new look for the club. John Selby, the commodore for the 2019 sailing season, made it his goal to move forward with Allen’s design and raise funds through donations from club members. “Once all the pledge forms were returned and it was determined that sufficient money was available, a contract was signed by Commodore Bryan Bahler with Hartley Builders for a construction start date of October 2020.”
Wagnon joined Allen as the project manager to oversee the entire project including authorizing payments to the contractor and reporting progress and issues to the board of directors. “I kept the project in front of the board and encouraged fundraising.”
The interior of the three-season porch has the aesthetics of an old-style porch with exposed rafters and car siding planking for roof decking. There are three sets of doors, one on each side of the porch, and 22 windows. Four skylights allow open airflow and several canned lights bathe the space in light. Eventually, large screen televisions will be installed to present tutorials for the four-week Junior Sailing Program and overhead drone videos of Saturday and Sunday races as well as regattas. An audio-visual system, funded by club member Jeff Schmahl, will also be installed.
“This project has been a labor of love. The design has never wavered from the original. I have hundreds of hours in the project,” said Allen. The new porch will accommodate 99 occupants and open in early May at the start of sailing season. The construction cost for the porch addition was $195,249.75 not including floor covering, landscaping and heating and cooling.
“The basic mission of the club is to promote sailing and racing of one-design boats on Lake Wawasee. I think the expanded porch will be an attractive venue for more events at the club including space and activities for kids and teenagers,” said Wagnon.
The club has a long history on Lake Wawasee. Eighty-two years ago, sailing enthusiasts Ed Dodez, Joseph Plasket, Bryon McCammon and June Merriman noticed a small cottage owned and for sale by the D. J. Brunjes estate on the south side of Lake Wawasee. With $500 in finances from Eli Lilly and a loan from the State Bank of Syracuse for $1,000, the members of the Wawasee Yacht Club were able to buy the home for their sailing club.
The former shelter for the Tavern Hotel workers had a living room, two small bedrooms, a little kitchen, a stool and wash basin and a small screened-in porch. Members soon tore down the two bedrooms in favor of a large living room with a fireplace. A men’s dormitory was built in the loft. Over the years, improvements were made to the club and the cubbies, a 1948 eight-room Sears prefab building rented for the season by sailors. The WYC is currently home to four competitive one-design fleets including E-Scows, Lightnings, I-20s and Sunfish.
There are three classes of club membership. Active members may vote, hold office, serve on committees and participate in all social and racing activities of the club; junior active members must be under the age of 30 and they have all the rights of active members; social members may participate in yacht club events, serve on committees and crew in club races.
Officers for the 2021 sailing season are Christie Call, commodore; Greg Moore, vice commodore; Betsy Berry, senior member-at-large; Casey Call, race chairman; Bryan Bahler, rear commodore; Terry Moorman, secretary; Steve Wolfer, treasurer; Kenny Bolles, buildings and grounds; Andy Allen, docks and harbor; Jeff Schmahl, director of junior sailing.
The club is located at 6338 E. Truesdell Drive, Pier 640 in Syracuse.