Flo Spenard, the newest commodore of the Edgewood Yacht Club, officially took the reigns from Wayne Kezirian on Saturday as the club officially opened its new building on the site of the Victorian clubhouse lost in 2011.
“This is an overwhelming day for many of us, it’s humbling,” Spenard said. “I look back on the tears we shed when this building was burning down. Many of us stood right on that hill and watched that building burn. But today, we’re shedding tears of joy, and that’s the difference.”
Spenard, formerly the vice commodore of the club, expressed emotion Saturday as the yacht club, which burned on a stormy January night in 2011. Following the fire, the club continued to operate from a cottage on the property and hold events in a tent in the parking lot.
Kezirian chaired the committee that oversaw construction of the building which are in the same location and reflective of the Victorian design at 1 Shaw Avenue off of Edgewood Boulevard.
Spenard said that Kezirian put “thousands of hours” into the planning and follow-through of the re-building of the club.
Kezirian said it was a difficult project to rebuild the club and figure out the logistics, as it is uniquely constructed with indoor space on the upper two floors and open dock-space on the first floor. The building stands on pilings over the water.
Kezerian credited Lanphear, who was the commodore when the club burned down, with bringing people in to create “an entirely new community” on which the club will now be based. He said that Lanphear was “masterful in bringing people in and bringing the club back to an immediate activity.”
“I hope this building will last at least 100 years, as did its predecessor,” Kezirian said about the club.
The original Edgewood Yacht Club was built in 1889, then burned down in 1908, and the second one lasted until the fire in 2011.
Joining the group of roughly 100 people at Saturday morning’s celebration were Stephen Weaver, the commodore of the Newport Yacht Club, and Herb Brown, the former commodore of the Bristol Yacht Club. Kezirian said that this newly rebuilt Edgewood club will reconnect sailors from the southern and northern ends of Narragansett Bay, and old friendships “will be renewed.”
According to Kezirian, the first floor of the club will be left open and used for a gathering place, while the second floor will be used for club activities and the third floor will be used for Brown University’s sailing offices. Ted Turner, the former CEO of CNN and member of the Brown Sailing Team during his time there, paid for part of the $4 million cost of rebuilding the club. $2.5 million came from Brown, in Turner’s trust, and the other money came from insurance claims and fundraising by the club.
Full membership at the Edgewood Yacht Club is $1,000.
“This is a heartwarming day for all of us,” said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. “It’s been a privilege to work to bring back this icon for Edgewood, for Cranston, and for Rhode Island. This will be part of our history and legacy for generations to come.”