A Piece of Gilded History

On September 2, 1890, in a clubhouse just two years young, a gathering of Gilded Age elite enjoyed a tribute dinner suited to their status at American Yacht Club on Milton Point.

Published June 4, 2015 8:48 PM
3 min read

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boatbook-thOn September 2, 1890, in a clubhouse just two years young, a gathering of Gilded Age elite enjoyed a tribute dinner suited to their status at American Yacht Club on Milton Point.

On September 2, 1890, in a clubhouse just two years young, a gathering of Gilded Age elite enjoyed a tribute dinner suited to their status at American Yacht Club on Milton Point. Some arrived by train, then carriage, other by sea via the AYC naphtha (motor) launch. Gardiner & Emma Charlick chose the club on this day to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

Founded only seven years earlier, AYC was a haven for regional elite. The shingle-style clubhouse stood in the spot of the present day one on land recently purchased from the Wainwrights. Although the clubhouse survived the devastating 1938 “Long Island Express” hurricane, it was completely lost to fire in 1951.

boatbookSteam yachts were all the rage during this era as the privileged played one-upmanship with their piers commissioning outrageously large and ornate sea vessels worthy of a jaunt to the Breakers in Newport. Out west, the U.S. Calvary was still at war with the Lakota. Here in the east, it was the height of the Gilded Age and our diners on Milton Point were enjoying the finest cuisine illuminated by gas lighting. Ladies were tightly bound in corsets and many a gentleman sported handsome handlebar moustaches.

In its early years, nearly all AYC members lived outside of Rye, as was the case with the Charlicks who resided on Long Island. Their anniversary meal began with huitres en coquille (oysters), harvested from the very waters they looked out on. A seemingly endless procession of soup, vegetables, fish, veal, chicken, and ox was served. In the French style, a salad course was presented at the end of the meal. Dessert? Well, if the previous eight courses left you a little wanting, a bevy of cookies, cheese, fruit, and ice cream was at your disposal.

An amazing artifact of this period, recently uncovered, documents this special day. Remarkably, the handpainted menu, surely the only surviving copy, has been unearthed. Bound in pale blue silk, the menu is entirely in French and features an extraordinary cover.

An exceptionally rendered dual funnel, three-masted period yacht under steam is silhouetted against a New York cityscape. As yet unattributed, the clipper bow and raked transom make for an impressive vessel. The beveled inset features the light station of a masonry lighthouse with its distinguished lightning rod peak surely familiar to the attendees.

The pictured menu from that day will be sold to the high bidder at the Rye Historical Society’s annual fundraising gala Saturday, June 6. All are welcome. For tickets and event information, visit ryehistory.org. Attendees will have an opportunity to own this unique piece of Rye history. For non-attendees, private sealed bids will be accepted via email to sjordan@ryehistoricalsociety.org up till 6 pm June 6.

 

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