The Florida Yacht Club was organized in 1876 for the purpose of promoting yachting and social enjoyment. at the time, Jacksonville was the East coast’s southernmost center of winter social activities and recreation, attracting affluent families to the area by rail and water. Jacksonville, with the St. Johns river, rail connections, and grand hotels was a natural vacation destination for businessmen of the Industrial Revolution. The first meeting of the Club’s members was held on April 28th, 1877 and William B. Astor, Jr. was elected Commodore while a lifetime membership fee of thirty-five dollars was established.
The first clubhouse was located at the foot of Market Street in downtown Jacksonville and was elegantly designed as a Swiss Chalet. The Club was considered one of the finest buildings of its day, with a ballroom, ladies card room on the land side and men’s meeting rooms on the river side. Open porches circled the second floor and a captain’s walk was on the roof. Member's boats were stored below as well as at the Club's docks to the East and West. The Club became known at once for its Christmas Ball, cotillions, social affairs and Ladies day.
The original Club burned in the great fire of 1901. After this tragedy, the Club took up temporary quarters in the 500 block of Riverside Avenue while the search for a new permanent site began. A gift of attractive property on the south side of the mouth of Willow Branch Creek ended the search. On November 28th, 1907, Thanksgiving Day, a formal re-opening of the Club was celebrated with a cotillion.
Over the next 20 years, the Club’s membership continued to grow and the need for considerable expansion became necessary. A beautiful waterfront property in the Ortega neighborhood was gifted and a new, larger clubhouse was opened and celebrated with a regatta and dance on April 21, 1928. Since that time, the growing membership has been accommodated by the addition of elegant dining rooms, extensive full-service kitchen facilities, two marinas with over 150 slips, clay tennis courts, and a newly remodeled health club and swimming pool.
Today, The Florida Yacht Club plays host to weddings, numerous annual regattas and social events, and is recognized as one of Northeast Florida’s most prestigious private Clubs.