DARIEN — For the first time since its founding in 1928, the Noroton Yacht Club has undergone a major rebuild.
“It’s the first time in 90 years they have had such a significant change. It’s just reinvigorated the entire membership,” said James Frayer, consultant to the club.
Frayer said the decision to rebuild the clubhouse came after the original building was damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. “They had to tear it down because it was structurally unsound,” he said. “What they built was a spectacular new club house that is right on the water.”
The $5 million, 7,500-square-foot facility opened to the membership for their 90th Club Commissioning this past summer, with the new second floor housing a dining room, library and bar. The club used some savings and a bank loan to cover the costs; no members were charged in the process.
Burgin Lambert Architects designed the clubhouse with input from the club members. The new dining room and deck gives members a place to be after races and in the evening. On display inside the building are numerous trophies, plaques and models showing the history of the club.
“It’s motivated more of the people who may not have used the yacht club as much to get more involved,” Frayer said.
The new clubhouse also has a classroom and meeting room for the various programs the club runs.
Wim Jessup, general manager of the Noroton Yacht Club, said some neighbors to the clubhouse offered their homes for lessons to still be run for junior sailing programs. In addition, the club would occasionally set up tents.
Much of the decor in the new club uses the woodwork from the original building.
“There’s a spiritual connection to the old club,” Jessup said.
The bottom floor is also designed to let water flow in and out, in case of another storm. Wall insulation is protected from wetness, and all electrical wirings are raised above the highest water mark.
“This is our way of meeting that requirement of FEMA to be prepared,” he said. “The whole lower club is prepared for a flood.”
The goal for the club is to now rebuild the membership to its fullest extent, Jessup said, adding the clubhouse provides a perfect place for members to be after events.
“We hope this will be a mecca for running events,” he said. “We’re primarily focused on the boats we have, like the sonar.”
Between the new bar, dining services and view, the facility provides many attractions for current and future members. The club held an open house on Sept. 22 to show off the new building to the community.
“We’re looking for members interested in sailing and who will volunteer to help us,” Jessup said. “This is a very volunteer-driven club.”