ELBA-MAR BOAT CLUB
Orville Brown and Ray Hoover got together and started working on the idea of a marina and boat club in the 1950-1951 era with no definite plans. On January 2, 1953, an application was made to Grosse Ile Township for a permit to operate a boat basin. Elba-Mar Boat Club became an official entity on February 20th, 1953 with the filing of the articles of incorporation with the State of Michigan.
On April 30, 1953 a "show cause" and a " restraining order" were issued in Circuit Court of Wayne County against Mr. Brown and Mr. Hoover by the action of Grosse Ile Township to stop them from building docks, piers, or other facilities since, it appeared, they had no zoning certificate. This went back and forth a while as these things often do. Again on July 20, 1953, another "show cause" and a " restraining order" were issued to stop proceedings. Finally, after much discussion, all parties agreed that work could continue if a clubhouse could be built and completed by October 1954. So, with this promise, the founding fathers of Elba-Mar Boat Club cast forth the beginning.
There were 113 wells in 1953. The initiation fee was $10.00, dues were $12.00 and you paid $2.00 per foot to tie your boat to a tree trunk or stake in the bank. Mr. Hoover started dredging the harbor, which was mostly swampland. He dredged it to the basic horseshoe shape of today. In the winter of 1953, Mr. Roy Hoover and some members installed a 3" pipe rail around the shore and the boaters finally had something solid to which they could tie their boats. Roy Hoover and Orville Brown, assisted by some club members, also built the clubhouse to comply with the court injunction.
When the Club was formed, Mr. Brown and Mr. Hoover were the landlords and the Club was the tenant. The Club paid $120.00 per year in rent. Initiation fees and dues went to the Club.
Dockage and storage went to the landlords. The original area was referred to as Elba-Mar Marsh, hence the name.
In 1956, Orville Brown was self-appointed Commodore and George Smith started the Saturday night dances for the teenagers of the club for a small fee. The dances were later changed to free dances on Saturday night, a tradition that still continues today.
Roy Hoover was the first ever-elected Commodore of the club in 1957. The original Board of Directors included Cecilia Brown and Vi Hooper.
On January 20, 1959, Elba-Mar Boat Club received notice that they were accepted into the Inter-Lake Yachting Association. The official date of Acceptance was recorded on December 7, 1958. At that time, there were 73 clubs in the I-LYA family.
In the 1959/1960 era, a group of wives of the club members met numerous times at the home of Bill and Lou Armstrong. The result of these informal meetings was the foundation of the ladies auxiliary called the Elba-Marettes. The Women of this valuable organization, from that time to the present, have raised large amounts of money that have been used to not only improve the Club, but the community. They organize and sponsor various Family events at the Club as well as raise funds for several charities in the community.
In June of 1962, Mr. Hoover informed the Club of his intent to sell the property. He offered Elba-Mar Boat Club the first option to purchase; but there were other parties showing interest in buying the property, including Great Lakes Steel Corporation. The Price was set at $230,000 with a $57,000 down payment expected. A club meeting was called, and the members were informed that an assessment of $300 per member would be required to make the down payment. The membership turned down the change to make the purchase. If they could get 50 people to put up $1,000 each, they could keep Elba-Mar Boat Club intact. Meetings between July and October of 1962 resulted in the formation of the Grosse lle Development Incorporated. July 16, 1962 war the first official meeting of GIDI. This meeting was held in Lee Dumas basement. Only 44 members were willing to invest the $1,000 needed instead of the 50 required to make the idea work. So these 44 people dug a little deeper and came up with $1140 each to save the club. A complete list of the original members of GIDI could not be found. There were 44 people originally involved; and in the middle 1970s, other members bought into the GIDI. A separate history of the GIDI could be a book of its own.
UPDATE JUNE 2019
On property at the south end of Grosse Ile, which was once part of the R.E. Olds estate sits Elba-Mar Boat Club. In 1951, this property was purchased by Roy Hoover and Orville Brown, initially to start a public marina. Grosse Ile Township would not issue a permit for a public marina, but would allow them to establish a private boat club. So, on February 20, 1953, the State of Michigan approved the Articles of Incorporation. The name was derived from the property being adjacent to Elba Island and also that it sat mostly in the middle of a marshy area; therefore, we became Elba-Mar Boat Club. Orville Brown was the first unofficial and self-proclaimed commodore from 1953 through 1956. In 1957, Roy Hoover became the first elected commodore of Elba-Mar Boat Club.
In the 1960s, such things as free Saturday night dances, euchre nights and fashion shows were popular. Also during this era in 1962, the official club newsletter began replacing post cards as a means of keeping the membership informed of various events. In 1964, Mr. Hoover indicated that he intended to sell the club. At this time, Grosse Ile Development, Incorporated was formed as a means of saving the club from extinction. They performed several major renovations while the club was in their care, such as dredging the inner channel, installing seawalls and adding utilities to the docks. They owned the club until the membership purchased it in 1974.
During the 1970/1980 era, the clubhouse was remodeled no less than three times. Our old gravel road was replaced with asphalt, gas tanks were replaced and the gas dock renovated, and our beautification committee landscaped the grounds front to back. Two new entrance signs were installed, one from land and one from sea, thus establishing our new logo which you see on most of our publications. Also, new docks and utilities were added on the small boat side of our harbor, completing the renovation of all our docks at the club.
In the 1990s we have had the addition of a new seawall on the canal side of the harbor, and all new electrical throughout the club grounds. We have made major kitchen and bath room renovations as well as numerous beautification projects on the club grounds.
In the early 2000s we’ve kept up with water levels being too low by dredging the harbor and respacing the west outer harbor docks. Starting with what would be an eight year project of replacing the asphalt around the whole marina. The beer cooler, kitchen freezer and refrigerator were replaced. Along with the kitchen stove and other kitchen appliances.
The last ten years brought a new bar and ceiling with the revamp of the club house including new coolers behind the bar. The men’s and women’s bathrooms were updated. The bar and eating area had the flooring replaced along with the kitchen serving areas upgraded. Keno was brought in along with new TVs. Membership has surpassed the 500 mark. As we approach the future we are looking forward to new storage sheds, launch ramp upgrading and the possibility of a new clubhouse.
Our most valuable assets from the past and into the future are our members. They are what makes Elba-Mar Boat Club the best club on the water.