One cold day in 1912, members of the Grand Lake Yacht Club enjoyed this elegant menu in the downtown Denver Club with their guest, Sir Thomas J. Lipton, British tea merchant and yachtsman extraordinaire. After an evening of frivolity and sailing stories, Lipton announced that he would sponsor a trophy to be awarded as the grand prize at an annual sailing competition held on Grand Lake.
The next summer, Lipton shipped an ornate sterling silver cup to Colorado. Although he was invited, Lipton never actually visited Grand Lake, sparing everyone the embarrassment of learning that the Englishman might have been taken in by a little partisan hyperbole.
Historic sailing on Grand Lake
The Grand Lake Yacht Club was incorporated in May of 1902 with a membership of four. Two of them – Harry Bryant, Richard Crawford Campbell – competed in the club’s later that summer, dueling in rowboats outfitted with homemade sails. The members elected Bryant the club’s first commodore.
Lipton was at the height of his yachting glory, having sponsored boats that raced in three America’s Cup competitions. He would never win the coveted trophy in five spirited attempts. But Lipton’s decision to bestow the cup that now bears his name did much to inspire the membership of a small yacht club in downtown Grand Lake.
Bryant upped the ante when he ordered a proper sailboat shipped to Grand Lake by freight wagon. Bryant’s sailboat was christened Dorothy II. Not to be outdone, Campbell ordered Tom Tom II from a boat maker in Wisconsin. The two skippers became fierce competitors.
Early on, the members gathered in private homes, but it soon became apparent that they needed a clubhouse. In 1911, the board of directors asked architect Carleton Adams to submit building plans. For unknown reasons, Adams withdrew from the project. Bryant asked Denver architect and Grand Lake summer resident Aaron Gove to step in. In April, 1912, Bryant presented Gove’s sketch to the board.
The group moved quickly, accepting bids from from local contractors. Members reviewed the following proposals:
Henry Schnoor, builder of many homes around the lake $3,850.00
W.G. Gregg, furniture maker and builder $3,085.00
Preston H. Smith, builder of two Grand Lake hotels and the Eslick Cottage Court $2,895.00