San Francisco attorney Jerome White arranged a 15-year lease with Julia Shafter Hamilton for 50 feet of her tidelands; the terms required the building to be occupied by December 31, 1913.

Attilio Martinelli, owner of the Inverness Store, supplied the building materials for the clubhouse; in return, the members signed a note for $1,550 at 7% interest. The clubhouse was built by John Rasmussen, whose boat building shop was next door. The finished clubhouse was accepted by the Board at a meeting in May of 1914 at Dr. William Mason's Berkeley home. At the same meeting, they voted to pay Rasmussen $33.50 to install toilets and a wash basin.

The Club was in financial straits from the beginning. Resignations began coming in as early as 1913 when the treasurer called in pledges to the building fund. What little money was in the sock went, not to repay Martinelli, but to brace the building which swayed alarmingly when crowds milled around upstairs. Members could rent the hall for $5 until midnight, $1 an hour thereafter.

Brock Schreiber resigned on July 1, 1915, and some members began tying their boats to his wharf, although the Club had its own pier by then. Martinelli "carried" the Club through the 1920s and '30s, but in 1940 - his patience at an end - he foreclosed on the mortgage and the Club was out of business. Mrs. William Childs was its last commodore.

In September of 1940, Del Bender, a San Francisco manufacturer, purchased the building from Martinelli and set about restoring it, glassing in the upstairs porch. During World War II, the upstairs area became a private school for children of shipyard mothers. Mrs. Else Fagrell ran Guy's Cliffe School, assisted by Margaret Price, Elizabeth Giambastiani and Maidee Moore.

The Inverness Yacht Club was reactivated in 1949, largely at the insistence of Adolph Oko, real estate man and Drake scholar. Oko had proved himself an audacious sailor on waters deeper and wider than Tomales Bay. After World War II, he ran the British blockade of the Mediterranean in his “rust bucket”, the Kefalos, ferrying displaced Jews to Palestine. He became a director of the new yacht club, incorporated on August 15, 1949.

The reborn club paid nothing down, but agreed to give Del and Gladys Bender $100 a month for life (Del survived at Dream Farm for 25 years.) Whereas the original club had restricted use of its upper floor to members, the new club, in its bylaws, undertook to be "a community center for purposes of civic and recreational activities." It is just that today, and, in joyful contrast to its predecessor, is solvent.

Dr. Charles Barnett was Commodore of the new club, Dr. Robert Scarborough, Vice Commodore, Adolph Oko, Rear Commodore, Sam Jackson, Port Captain, Albert C. Miller, Secretary, Lloyd Mery, Treasurer. In addition, John Camm, Don Abelseth and Clelland Whitton also served on the first Board of the reactivated IYC. Property for a parking lot south of the club was purchased from Donald Patterson in 1966.


-Joe Pease, Staff Commodore,

circa 1970

Photo caption: The Inverness Yacht Club was organized in 1912 with University of California Professor Hugo Karl Schilling as Commodore, Dr. Frank W. Edmonds as Vice-Commodore, Dr. William Mason as Secretary, and Kenneth Mohrhardt as Treasurer.


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