Land History


Washington was President when Moses Rogers, a NYC merchant, began buying a land estate that encompassed the southern half of Shippan by the time of his death in 1825. When the last of his children died in 1866, a development plan was adopted, and it remains visible today in Ocean Drives East and West and the streets between them, some of which are named for members of the Rogers family. 
After William Lottimer and a group of friends agreed to establish this yacht club in October 1890, their priority was the procurement of land by the water. They considered several sites and, in March 1891, paid $3,150 for four wooded lots (see 197, 265, 267 and 269 on the first map) in the northwest corner of the Rogers estate. A year later, the Club expanded its property by paying Frank Hoyt $3,000 for developed land along the Club’s southern border, including the northern half of Lot 271. The purchase of Lot 263 may have been part of that transaction, as well.

In 1893, developers of the Rogers estate offered the Club 11.5 acres, including all lots on the north side of Ocean Drive West between the Club’s land and Shippan Avenue, for $5,000. The original offer also included the southern half of Lot 271, but the sellers later withdrew that 50’ strip, because of doubts about its title.  Our board expressed its annoyance by calling off the whole transaction.
Title to the southern half of Lot 271 was unclear because, in 1866, the Rogers family had excluded it from the lots for sale, intending to dedicate it as a public road to the water. The plan was never implemented, though the land was later put to public use as host of a large storm sewer pipe. Because its title was uninsurable, the strip was the subject of a quit-claim deed, an inheritance, and a charitable gift to Yale. In 2003 (yes, 110 years after our earlier unsuccessful bid to buy the land), SYC and its neighbor to the south negotiated a purchase from Yale and we divided the property between us.

When the Scofield family began thinking about filling and developing their marshland, just north of the Club’s property, they surveyed the border and determined that our bathhouse (located approximately where our pool deck is today) was encroaching by several inches.  They wrote to the Club in January 1906, demanding that the building be moved.  Maps and arguments were exchanged for several years. A mutually beneficial   solution was negotiated in 1912, when the Club gave the Scofields what is now Ralsey Road South (named for John Ralsey Scofield) to the east of Court 4, and the Scofields gave the Club a triangular piece of land that was 45’ wide at the water and narrowed to a point at what became the northeastern corner of the Club’s land.  (Although the Clubhouse was replaced in 1914, its footprint remains square to the original northern border, although the tennis courts and Vineyard Deck are square to the revised border.)  In 1913 the Scofields filled their marshland with soil dredged from Stamford Harbor.  The Club also bought some of the dredged soil for its northern border, just to avoid being washed away by the runoff from the Scofields’ land.

Another encroachment was alleged on part of the northern border in 1934, a few years after our first pool was installed.  The neighbor, Colonel Lilliendahl, generously resolved the issue by selling the Club a one-foot strip of land along the border for $1.

SYC bought Scofield Lots 46-48 in 1947, first for parking and later for tennis and paddle courts.  Lot 49 was owned by Herbert Greenberg.  He lived on waterfront Lot 51, but had his garage (our Marine Shed today) and orchard on Lot 49.  He let SYC use the eastern edge of Lot 49 as a north-south driveway alongside Lot 48, a use that continued until this year.  When Mr. Greenberg moved away in 1981, he sold both lots to SYC.  The Club had no particular use for the waterfront lot, situated between two private homes, so it sold Lot 51 and retained Lot 49.  As you know, the Club bought Lot 50 (43 Ralsey Road South) in 2014. 

I apologize for encroaching on Page 4, but a page and a half isn’t bad for a story that begins with “Washington” and ends with “2014.”

Staff Commodore Christopher Hynes
Club Historian