Crescent’s 75th Anniversary – The First Years



2008 an exciting year for Crescent as we are celebrating the 75th Anniversary of our club. We want to spend some time sharing with you the history of the 1st formidable years of Crescent.

In 1933 just a few years after the Great Depression, a lot was going on in Detroit and the United States. Construction of the 1st US Aircraft Carrier and the Golden Gate Bridge was started. The Lone Ranger debuted on Detroit Radio and soon broadcasted nationwide. Packard came out with a V-12 Rumble Seat Roadster. A Bob-Lo boat was cruising the river.

Most importantly in 1933 Prohibition was repealed and the Gangster underworld and Detroit River night traffic changed forever.


Sailing was growing with the large clubs being Detroit Boat Club & Detroit Yacht Club. Membership there was out of the reach for young sailors, most of whom built their own sailboats in their friend’s back yards. In the winter of 1932, one group of young sailors who were friends as Sea Scouts, wanted to start a yacht club. They got help from Chalmers Burn who was a 60 year old avid sailor, involved with the established clubs and very willing to help the young sailors get a start.


They were a group of 27 sailors and wanted to name their club the Corinthian Yacht Club and had an idea to buy an old three masted schooner and make it their floating club house. Chalmers Burn helped them write up a constitution, regulations and elect officers. Then, in early 1933 they discovered another Corinthian Yacht Club already existed on Lake Erie – “Oh what do we do now?” Well, eventually they agreed and submitted the new name - - Crescent Sail Yacht Club to the State for its Charter. The State Charter was given on March 11th, 1933. A copy of the State Charter is hanging proudly on our wall still today.  

They elected Chalmers Burn as their 1st Commodore.



The Club was located on the Detroit River behind what is now the Naval Armory on Jefferson across from Belle Isle. The membership fees were $25 and annual dues were $15. Well, all looked good for a first year; they even sponsored a regatta as part of DRYA which had 61 entries.


Then in the early summer of 1934, they were notified by the Book family who owned the property that it had been sold and they had 30 days to find somewhere else to moor their boats.


After desperately searching, they were able to get Mr. Henry Joy, the President of Packard Motor Car Co. to offer mooring at his peninsula located in GP Farms at Kerby and Jefferson, where Crescent still resides to this day. Mr. Joy agreed to a one year trial period and after that year signed a 5 year Lease for a total of $50 for all five years.


Also, in 1934 Commodore Chalmers Burn passed away unexpectedly, leaving a large void in the leadership of a newly formed club. Fortunately, the club got thru that year and even ended with a membership count that rose to 55 sailors.


The constitution of Crescent has two original objectives and to this day those still exist. First objective is to be a club for sailors of moderate means, and secondly, to be a club that provides a school of instruction to promote the sport of sailing.

Many members feel that if the original 27 Charter members were here to see Crescent today they would be proud and glad that we are living the dream they had envisioned the club would someday become.


VC Nick Geisz, 2008


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