On the evening of May 25, 1888 George I. Tyson, a prominent summer resident of Riverside and an enthusiastic yachtsman, invited 10 of his friends to meet with him at his home to consider and act upon his plan to establish a yacht club in the community. George Tyson provided an acre or so of waterfront land, and he offered to finance the construction and equipping of a clubhouse. In return for this, a token rental was charged. According to the Lloyd’s Registry of American Yachts, Riverside Yacht Club (RYC) became the second yacht club to be established in the state of Connecticut and the eighth on Long Island Sound in order of seniority among those that have survived to the present day.
George Tyson served as Commodore for eight consecutive years. With his yacht, Nirvana, he led the cruising fleet on its annual runs to the eastern end of Long Island Sound.
Commodore Tyson was a self-made man, and a captain in New York’s famed Seventh Regiment during the Civil War. It is Commodore Tyson’s history with the Civil War and his regiment’s flag, that led to the design of the RYC burgee.
The original clubhouse was built in 1889. By 1893 additional room was needed and an adjacent structure, called the “spar loft” was built on the property. The spar house contained bowling alleys, rooms for shuffleboard and billiards. When the furniture was cleared, it also served a ball room for summer dances.
During the winter of 1892-93, some of the members conceived the idea of establishing winter quarters in New York City. William Bagg, became an enthusiastic supporter of the idea and generously offered the use of his rooms at 39 West 31st Street for this purpose. The RYC annual meetings were held here up until 1895 after which they were then held back in Riverside.
Around 1927, the RYC membership bought the property from the Tyson estate. The Club’s membership had grown and the harbor was filling with yachts. Inter-club racing on Long Island Sound was well under way.