While most Lake Hopatcong residents are familiar with the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club, which has been in operation since 1905, and the Garden State Yacht Club, founded in 1949, few are aware that another club once operated here—and caused quite a bit of excitement when it was founded 100 years ago this summer.
As reported in the July 25, 1914 issue of the Lake Hopatcong Breeze: “A new yacht club has been organized and named the Maxim Park Yacht Club. The new club has constituted itself a public welfare organization and will see to it that better sanitary regulations are enacted and enforced upon the whole north shore of the Lake, where, hitherto, health regulations have been very lax. Also, action will be taken for the destruction of mosquitoes. One of the most notable purposes of the Club is to secure telephone service all the way around the Lake that is to say, the continuation of telephone service from Nolan’s Point around the entire north shore, taking in Halsey Island and Raccoon Island and the shore of Byram Cove. Several hundred dollars have already been pledged to bear such part of the initial cost as shall be necessary to get the Telephone Company to undertake the work. The Club is also pledged to the support of the movement started by Mr. Maxim a year ago, to build a roadway from Maxim Drive near Bear Pond through to Woodport, in conjunction with existing roads, thereby providing a continuous highway around the Lake. Mr. Maxim secured subscriptions last year for nearly twenty-five hundred dollars for the purpose, but was unable to raise enough for the immediate prosecution of the project.”
The Maxim Park Yacht Club was organized during the heart of the lake’s resort period. The lake was being developed at a rapid pace, some 35 hotels and rooming houses were in operation, and the lake was becoming widely known as a major northeast resort.
Well-known Lake Hopatcong resident Hudson Maxim donated a home for the Maxim Park Yacht Club consisting of a “perpetual lease” of land at Cow Tongue Point including the old Henderson Hotel building. The name Maxim Park came from the large land development Maxim was spearheading at the time. A yacht club located near the land he was developing certainly enhanced the attractiveness of this area of the lake.
L.A. Morey, who was the driving force behind the new club, became the vice-commodore and Maxim was named its first commodore. Noted author and lake resident Rex Beach was the first treasurer. A life membership cost $50, and no restrictions were placed on the number of members.
At its founding, the new club reported 100 members. In order to raise money to renovate the Henderson Hotel, a vaudeville show of 10 acts was organized as a fundraiser in August 1914 at Allen’s Pavilion on Nolan’s Point. In September, membership had grown to 200 and work began on the clubhouse.
Extensive renovations were made to the Henderson Hotel building over the winter and the July 17, 1915, Breeze reported: “The Maxim Park Yacht Club, organized for the purpose of adding interest
to the Northern part of Lake Hopatcong, is rapidly completing the furnishing of its attractive club house on Cow Tongue Point. The site of the club house has been excellently chosen. The spacious porches and balcony afford splendid views of the lake in practically all directions and it has been found that the club house is particularly cool. The grill room, located on the main floor will probably be in operation next week for the benefit of club members, their families and visitors to the club house. Plans of the club include a regatta, motor and sailboat races, aquatic sports, dancing and various entertainments at the club house. The club issues a cordial invitation to all those interested in looking over its property.”
The new clubhouse was painted white with grey trim and had a red roof. Floating docks were used in order to accommodate a large number of boats. The clubhouse was officially opened on August 14, 1915 with a parade of 75 boats led by Hudson Maxim in his Mack Jim, L.A. Morey in his Roselynne and Rex Beach in his new hydroplane, the Gretna. As the parade approached Bertrand Island, the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club fired seven shots in salute.
A regatta highlighted the inaugural season of the clubhouse at the end of August. According to the Lake Hopatcong Breeze, club members competed in such events as motorboat, sailboat and canoe races, tilting canoe matches (think medieval jousting while standing in a canoe), tub races using wooden barrels, “fancy diving,” and swimming competitions.
The Maxim Park Yacht Club initially prospered, featuring card parties, evening dancing, and occasional entertainment but, over time, it appears to have had problems developing a strong membership base. Perhaps Lake Hopatcong of the 1910s was not ready for a club whose initial purpose was to combine a civic improvement agenda and an entertainment club. Following the 1920 season, the club lost its building on Cow Tongue Point. Whether Hudson Maxim terminated the lease or some other event caused the yacht club’s operations to cease is unclear. The club remained inactive until the 1923 season when it started holding activities predominantly at Wyomissing Cottage on Raccoon Island and Glasser’s Pavilion in Northwood (later the Northwood Inn). Activities consisted of barbeques, dances, and aquatic competitions, and frequently drew good crowds. However, following the 1926 season, the Maxim Park Yacht Club faded into history.
Meanwhile, on Cow Tongue Point, the former clubhouse building was sold and converted into a private residence in the 1920s. Incredibly, Cow Tongue Point has remained in the same family ever since. The former clubhouse has retained its charm and remains one of the prettiest homes on Lake Hopatcong.