It started at original 16 members in 1895. As of 1995, there have been almost 400 members and 100 life members. As of 2016, there are over 400 members and 250 lifetime members. The Club’s members have come from all walks of life. There have been veterans of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and other recent conflicts and peace-keeping missions.
The Club’s history closely responds to the history of Newburyport, the Clipper City, and its Shipbuilding legacy.
About March 1849, a boom in Newburyport shipbuilding had begun and would continue into the latter part of the 19th century. This era would produce well-known shipbuilders such as McKay, Currier, and Jackman. Another significant member Eben Manson, an owner of the Pilsbury shipyard who built some of the finest vessels to be launched among the banks of the Merrimac. Some of the fastest and most illustrious ships of Newburyport were built on these grounds.
The club was born in the last part of the 19th century, a time when most people in Newburyport were no longer looking to the sea for their livelihood and when seafaring and shipbuilding had ceased to be a viable occupations.
On March 19th, 1907 there was a document signed by 14 men and by the Secretary of Overcome, Wm. M. Olin. The document officially made the club a “Corporation for the purpose of encouraging athletic sports and yachting.”
The original 14 men who signed that document were: Orion R. Hill, Thomas French, George G. Ladd, George L. Whitmore, George T.W. Tuttle, Alvah M. Safford, Otto Pearson, George H. Storey, B.C. Atwater, Ethelbert A Calkins, Wm. L. Miller, E.L. Miller, S.N. McWilliams, Albert G. Thurlow
December 28, 1962 was a horrific day for the members of the North End Boat Club. That cold winter morning saw the complete destruction of a fine old clubhouse which dated back to the early part of this century. All its contents were a total loss. Sixty-seven years of accumulated gear, photos, paintings, plaques, trophies, and records went up in smoke. One of the few things saved – the metal club embosser which is still used to this day. Beyond that – ashes and rubble. More significantly, one member later died as a result of that conflagration.
But the boats, the boaters, members remained. And it bears commendable testimony to all those members and their leaders that the institution was rebuilt and has persevered. Most previous knowledge was lost. And out of it all, like the phoenix, and like the new clubhouse of 1963, we raise up a hidden history out of evasive cooling and scattered embers of the past.
This is a club by and for the members.
Without a history, without a certain community spirit or common goals, a place is just a location and nothing more. But the North End Boat Club is more than just a nice spot off the Merrimack River. Members and guests have long met here and, whether they meet for similar interests, for boating, fishing, athletics, relaxation, and/or socializing it is my hope that they will continue to do so for at least another hundred years.
– Text taken from ‘Out of the Ashes’ A Brief Sketch of the History of the North End Boat Club. The Centennial Celebration Book, researched and written by Paul J. Jancewicz.