The Beach Club's Beginnings

Where We Began

The Beach Club is a private club located in Rye, NH at the south end of Jenness Beach. The historical buildings that comprise the Beach Club have been a landmark on the New Hampshire seacoast since 1925.

Ewing Hill’s Vision

On December 12, 1925, a letter was written to interested parties in Rye Beach, Little Boars Head and Straws Point by Mr. Ewing Hill.  Quotations from that letter are given herewith:

“All Rye Beach is concerned over the increasing tendency during the past few years of an element neither congenial nor desirable who are closing in on us from all sides. Many of these are distinctly unwelcome visitors.

“There is an influx of transient motorists by day and night, who are more and more flocking to our bathing beach.

“Negotiations were opened last summer to lease both Sawyer’s and Locke’s bath-houses for the purpose of converting both properties into a club for the protection and pleasure of the Rye Beach summer colony, their friends and guests.

“The Beach Club has been organized and incorporated and is now a reality.”

The letter goes on to propose each family buy one share of Beach Club Stock for each adult member, the proceeds to be used to purchase the Locke Pavillion—Locke agreeing to take back a mortgage.

The letter ends with the following paragraph:

“I think there is no doubt that upon the organization of the Beach Club depends the safety of Rye Beach.  We occupy so prominent a position directly on the Boulevard on which travel so many thousands of people daily that the organization of our Club is now a matter of absolute necessity.”

I believe this letter could well be written today.

Under the guidance of Frank Sulloway the Beach Club was duly incorporated and the record filed the 25th of November, 1925, with the Secretary of State.

The first officers of the Club were as follows:

Ewing Hill                                President
F.L Thompson                         Vice President
Arthur L. Hobson                   Vice President
Theo Lebosquet                      Vice President
Abbott Drake                           Treasurer
Frank Sulloway                        Clerk

Among the directors were found the following names, all of whom gave of their time and energy during the early formative years of the Club:

Ewing Hill                                 George Drake
H. Clinton Taylor                    Clement Studebaker
Theo LeBosquet                       E. V. Papin
F. L. Thompson                       Wallis D. Walker
Arthur L. Hobson                   Harry E. Bailey
Alvan Fuller                             Wayman Allen
H. Russell Sawyer                   T. T. Clark
Abbot Drake                            G.N. Studebaker
Richard H. Hawkins

Ewing Hill
George Drake
H. Clinton Taylor
Clement Studebaker
Theo LeBosquet
E. V. Papin
F. L. Thompson
Wallis D. Walker
Arthur L. Hobson
Harry E. Bailey
Alvan Fuller
Wayman Allen
H. Russell Sawyer
T. T. Clark
Abbot Drake
G.N. Studebaker
Richard H. Hawkins

To these men belong the credit, for without them we would have no Beach Club.


In order to build the pool, it became necessary to raise a substantial sum of money.  To do this, Ewing Hill took over again and received as a loan $300 from each person interested.  The sum of $30,000 was realized, which soon ran out, but Ted Thompson raised by personal loans secured by the Beach Club notes and from notes at two banks, enough to finish the project.  Much credit should go to Mr. Shirley Philbrick and Mr. Abbot Drake, who together supervised the final building of the pool.

Built and reinforced concrete with a filtration plant, pumps, etc. necessary to its operation, it is 100 feet long and 50 feet wide with a depth of 10′ 6″ at the deep end and 3′ at the shallow end.  Equipped with large underwater electric lights, about the first installation of its kind by General Electric, the pool is usable both day and night.  The lights installed at no small cost were a gift of Mr. Clement Studebaker.  An 8″ pipe extending 700 feet to mean low water mark supplied the ocean water which in summer, due to the sun, is about 10° warmer than the ocean.  The capacity of the pool is 365,000 gallons.  Until modern equipment became available, the pool was emptied about every two weeks in order to clean it and fill it with fresh water—this generally took at least three days so there were about 15 to 18 days during the season when there was no swimming in the pool.  This is of course all changed now.

Today we fill the pool at the beginning of the summer and never empty it until the end of the season.  This is made possible; 1st, by a vacuum brush which keeps the bottom of the pool clean; 2nd, by the introduction of a 2″ pipe running into the ocean 300 feet—this is operated by a separate pump and delivers to the pool 60,000 gallons of fresh ocean water every 24 hours; 3rd, this water as it comes in is filtered and chlorinated so that at all times we have a pool that is sparklingly clean and free from bacteria.

Adjacent to the pool is the platform which used to contain a sand box cut out of the platform and filled with sea sand for the use of very small children.  This was gradually reduced in size and finally disappeared, for, after all, the children have the safe sandy beach for their playground.

One cannot mention the pool and swimming without thinking of Charlie Adams and his family who have become so much a part of the character and life of the Beach Club.  Charlie first came as instructor in the summer of 1933 and one of his early assistants was his present wife, Phyllis, who continues to assist him in the swimming program today, in 1959, his daughter Patty, an accomplished swimmer and diver herself, is serving as his second assistant.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of continuous service the Executive Committee presented him with a suitably engraved silver cigarette case.


Our club house is a far cry from the Locke Pavillion purchased 33 years ago.  From one room with soda fountain and small store it was extended to present size.  An office for our manager and secretary was built, the kitchen modernized and snack bar added.  The main ball room, used for dinners and dances, is attractive, a completely new ladies’ powder room is the latest addition.  Upstairs we have two apartments, the larger one occupied by the Adams family, and the smaller one by our secretary, Miss Frances Wiggin. Each year minor changes and additions have been made which have added to the appearance and workability of the building.


Some do remember, but others do not, the black war years during which the Club barely survived.  Membership dropped, almost ceased to exist, and activities were at a standstill.  The beach was patrolled by Coast Guardsmen night and day.  A complete black-out was enforced at night.  Nobody was allowed after sunset at the Beach Club or on the beach.  Several times late at night a Coast Guard officer appeared at your President’s house, who went with him to the Club to check with him on something the patrol had found.  It was only by the strictest economy that the club was able to exist.  Every expenditure was scrutinized and not a cent was spent without the consent of the President.  We managed to come through this difficult period, but found ourselves at the end in a battered financial condition.


In 1946 we found ourselves in a critical position.  Mr. R. Jenness Locke, who held a $10,000 mortgage on the property, was asking for a reduction in principal.  The Amoskeag Savings Bank was also asking for payment on our note and the New Hampshire National was uneasy over their note; besides this we owed several members $300 each on a note given to complete the pool.  It seemed wise to try to get a bank mortgage for enough to cover all the indebtedness and at a lower rate of interest.  After considerable work and negotiations an agreement was made with the Union Trust Company of Concord, N.h., and the President and Treasurer were authorized to sign a note and execute a mortgage for a loan of $12,000, against a mortgage not to exceed $13,000.  All except two of the members who held $300 notes cancelled them and returned to the club.  As one man wrote, “The Club has done so much for me and my family that I am glad to cancel this obligation.”  We paid Locke and the banks, had a smaller interest charge and were once more on a firm financial standing.

As is true in most clubs few capital expenditures can be handled through operating income.  From the beginning, therefore, members have been asked to but stock.  Reserves so accumulated are used to make major improvements and to meet emergencies in break-down of equipment.

For example starting about ten years ago a new platform (cost $5,000), a complete new shingling job (cost $3,500), our laundry (cost 3,200), our new bathhouses (cost $200), our new Ladies’ Powder Room (cost $950), are some of the items paid for out of the stock sale reserve.  Such items go into our capital account to be depreciated.  In this connection it is interesting to note that previous to putting in our laundry our bill for laundry was $1,000 per season; today it costs us $250 and we are assured of having towels at all times.  It is not unusual on a hot day to use 600 towels which with our equipment we can handle with ease without carrying a large inventory of towels.

We now have an operating budget of 17,000.00.  Out income is derives largely from dues and rentals of locker rooms, a small sum is realized from rental of the club house and in good seasons the snack-bar shows a small profit.  Our largest expense is salaries and labor.  Our manager, secretary, life guard and locker boys comprise our personnel—wages of girls in the snack-bar are taken care of by that operation.


In the early years we were looking for members.  If a new family moved into this area they were invited to the Club.  The Farragut Hotel guaranteed a certain amount, but if members from the hotel exceeded that amount, we received the additional sum.  This did not prove too satisfactory, so guests from the Farragut have to be processed and screened by our membership committee the same as other prospective members.  The growth and popularity of the Beach Club has made it necessary to put a limit on our membership which has resulted in our having a considerable waiting list.  This is, of course, a healthy condition and is made necessary by the fact that we have reached the limit of our facilities.  220 children are now using the pool and our lockers, except for a few reserved for guests of members, are full.  In 1954 it was voted that no one outside of Rye and North Hampton should be admitted to membership.  It is just impossible to take members from surrounding towns.  There were a few members outside Rye and North Hampton before 1954 who of course are still members.  Our membership committee functions smoothly, screening all applications and so becoming responsible for the high standards of our members.


Our by-laws call for the stock-holders to elect the directors and the directors to elect the officers and the Executive Committee.  In the early days the officers and the Executive Committee were a sort of self perpetuating body but in 1954 it was voted to rotate the directors, electing one third of the number each year for a period of three years—those going off each year are not eligible for reelection.  This enables us to bring new blood into the management of the Club and gives us an up-to-date pool from which to draw our Executive Committee which must be taken from the directors.  It has resulted in getting more members interested in the working of the Club.  While the final power is vested in the Executive Committee, the President is the titular head and from him must come the suggestions that formulate policy.

Starting with 1926 the following men have served as Presidents:

Ewing Hall                               served 4 years
F. L. Thompson                       served 2 years
Arthur Hobson                        served 5 years
Parker Straw                            served 1 year
Harold Hixon                           served 10 years
William F. Harrington           served 3 years
E. Francis Bowditch               served 3 years
Wilbur H. Norton                    served 3 years
Horace N. Stevens                  our president now in 1959

Managers have played an important part in the development of the Club.  Robert Kinneburgh became a permanent employee in 1932 at a salary of $20.00 per week.

Mr. and Mrs. Generaly were made caretakers in 1933 and employed two waitresses and one bath boy.

From 1934 Miss Marie Cullen was our secretary and one year our treasurer.  She kept the books, ran the store and at that time was indispensable.  Richard Oeser had charge of the physical side of the Club, also keeping the pool in condition.

As of this date all the original directors have died with the exception of Russell Sawyer, T. T. Clark and Abbot Drake.  Among the early supporters and workers for the Club the following come to mind:

Fred Murphy                           Lansing Ray                            Ray Carter
Clint Taylor                             Dr. Walker                              John Higgins
A. T. Fuller                              Gardner Emmons                    Clinton Whittemore
Robert Nye                             Huntley Spaulding                  Sam Allen

Fred Murphy
Lansing Ray
Ray Carter
Clint Taylor
Dr. Walker
John Higgins
A. T. Fuller
Gardner Emmons
Clinton Whittemore
Robert Nye
Huntley Spaulding
Sam Allen

Later came:

Norman Cushman                   Bill Floyd                                Guy Swenson
Mrs. Hawkins                          James Holihan                         Capt. Stewart
Norman Huff                          Horace Stevens                       John Donohoe
Larry Moore                            Frank Bowditch                      Frederic Gooding
Hugh Gregg                            Mrs. Robert Nye                     Thomas Petzold
Reed Winans                           Mrs. Hayden Clark                 Sidney George

Norman Cushman
Bill Floyd
Guy Swenson
Mrs. Hawkins
James Holihan
Capt. Stewart
Norman Huff
Horace Stevens
John Donohoe
Larry Moore
Frank Bowditch
Frederic Gooding
Hugh Gregg
Mrs. Robert Nye
Thomas Petzold
Reed Winans
Mrs. Hayden Clark
Sidney George

These are but a few that make up the roster over the years of the Beach Club.

One cannot know the history of the Beach Club without being aware of the many more who contributed to its success.  Dr. Wallis D. Walker stands out as one of them.  Secretary of the Beach Club from 1932 and Treasurer from 1942 until his death in 1951 he gave of his time and ability—always dependable; those who knew him remember him with appreciation.


1930—The directors passed the following:
A vote of appreciation to Mrs. Clement Studebaker, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hobson, Mr. Francis Drake and Mr. Samuel Allen for their contributions toward the swimming pool which were much appreciated.

A vote that the thanks of the Club be extended to Russell Sawyer, Abbot Drake and Shirley Philbrick for their services in  connection with the building of the pool

1932—A resolution was passed and sent to the family of Clement Studebaker who so generously gave the under water lights to the Beach Club

1933—It was voted to allow the President to borrow money for the placement of rocks along the sea frontage.  The directors passed the following vote:  “That the affairs of the Beach Club be invested entirely in the Executive Committee—the office of President be purely a nominal one and that the Executive Committee be and hereby instructed to take over the exclusive control of the Beach Club at once.”

1935—A resolution was passed that two path towels were to be put in each bathhouse and extra ones were to be charged at a rate of 5c each.  It is doubtful if any charge was ever collected.  A vote of confidence was given the executive Committee by the directors.

1937—A committee was elected this year to recommend to the Executive Committee suggestions whereby the Beach Club could be made more attractive for the present members and to stimulate the interest of others to become members.  The committee, consisting of Ewing Hill, Hovey Slayton and Philip Hobson brought in a comprehensive report recommending four committees.

1.      Finance—To raise by public subscription enough money to carry out ideas and improvements as suggested by the various committees.

2.      Membership—To stimulate membership it was though necessary to “sell” the Club not only to residents but to hotels, etc.

3.      Entertainment—To have well printed literature sent out announcing swimming and diving events and other entertainment provided by this committee.

4.      Pool—To develop and promote cleanliness of bathhouses and pool and to recommend to the Executive Committee improvements that will be beneficial to the Club.

There appears to be no record of these committee activities.

1938—Voted: The portion of the Club property now used by the Rye Beach Police be rented to the Rye Beach Precinct provided that there be joint use of toilet facilities.

During this year Mr. Locke requested a payment on his mortgage to bring the principal down to $10,000.  This was done by borrowing on a Beach Club note endorsed by seven members of the Club.

1939—Mr. Philip Hobson was appointed managing-director, a position he held through 1940.

1941—It was in this year we refinanced the mortgage as described earlier in this article.

1945—The first real membership committee came into being this year.  This proved satisfactory and the present membership committee is acting under virtually the same rules as the original committee.

1946—Mr. Edward Sawyer claimed that the north end of our bathhouse was on his land.  Rather than have a court case Mr. Sulloway made a settlement with him.  We paid Sawyer $1,000.00 for a strip of land 3 feet wide north of the large bathhouse and extending from the boulevard to the beach parallel to the platform and runway and the right of way from Boulevard to beach.

Mr. Ewing Hill felt that at this time it was necessary to resign from the active management in Club affairs.  The letter from the directors stressed the length of service and work done by Mr. Hill.  His idea started the Club and the whole community owed him a debt of gratitude.

1947—The building of a permanent shelter on the easterly side of the platform was authorized.

1948—Votes of thanks and letters of appreciation were sent to Mr. Howard Armstrong for his present of the Consol radio and to Mrs. Fred Murphy for her efforts in obtaining the drinking fountain and in redecorating the ladies room.

The directors voted that the office of Chairman of the Board be created and that Harold Hixon be elected to fill the office.

1949—A fortunate choice was made this year in electing Mr. Philip Drake as General Manager—a gifted gentleman who is a mason, carpenter, painter, steam-fitter and plumber.  These talents he uses to advantage before and after the Club season.  During the season he has charge of all Club activities, and as Manager carries out the policies as laid down by the Executive Committee.  He is also our Assistant Treasurer, a very valuable man to the club.

Miss Wiggin joined our staff in this year and has been our secretary ever since.  Besides keeping our books she is on duty at the window during the daytime operating of the club.  She knows, and is known by all members, is well likes, courteous, diplomatic, a great addition to our staff.

1950—Except for the burning out of the big pump motor our first real breakdown of our equipment came this year.  The 8″ pipe which supplied water to the pool finally went to pieces—even the case iron pipe could not stand the action of the salt water so it had to be replaced.  It was replaced with a 6″ pipe of shorter length at a cost of $940.00

1953—A limit of Season Family Memberships was established by the Executive Committee.  A determined effort was made to sell stock in order to have money to purchase new equipment.  At this time also, charges for the use of the Club for private parties were established

1954—It was voted that teen-age activities were becoming an important part of the club life and a substantial sum of money was ear-marked in our budget to cover the expense.

A citation in the form of a scroll was presented by the Directors to Harold Hixon making him an Honorary Life Member of the Beach Club.

1957—At a meeting of the Executive Committee it was voted that new season memberships pay $100.00 for which they shall be issues one share of Beach Club stock.


Unless one has seen it, it is hard to realize that the Beach Club is not always the way it is in summer.  In the Fall with the crowd gone, the pool empty, the platform bare of its chairs, flower boxes, umbrellas put away and the Club House closed, your club is a pretty dreary place.  It is then that much of the work is done and preparation for the next season, painting and repairs get underway with always an eye out for the northeasters which at times threaten to demolish the club.  There have been times when the waves would break over the platform and land in the pool.  The platform will buckle due to rocks being forced under it, and the Club House itself would be lifted six inches from the foundations.  This has been helped by sealing up with a stone wall the openings under the platform and buildings.  This year new batter-boards under the windows on the ocean side of the Club have given us added protection, but we still cannot prevent big logs coming in on the waves, smashing our railings and landing on the platform.

Then it is spring and the real work of getting ready for the summer begins; the pool painted, umbrellas overhauled and most important of all, getting the machinery checked and started ready to operate.  Soon the families begin to return and the Club is once more entering a busy season.

Unlike most Clubs of this kind the Beach Club does not have a bar or sell liquor.  We can get along without the revenue, but more important is the atmosphere that prevails throughout the club.  Young children and teen-agers are beyond temptation at the Club and see adults at their best.

During the season the Club renders a real service to the community in protection of the Beach:  with its surf board and life boat, the Club through its staff has been responsible for the saving of 14 lives.  Not only our members but others using the beach adjacent to the Club are given protection.


From an idea and a small beginning the Beach Club has grown to become a vital part of Rye Beach.  It has been the meeting place for two and three generations with a fourth about to enter its life.  Without it Rye Beach would be just another beach.  With it, Rye Beach is known as a place where a family can come and enjoy, with congenial people, a wonderful summer.    A fine safe beach with a beautiful pool unsurpassed anywhere, Rye Beach, because of the Beach Club offers the finest facilities for clean gracious healthy living.

The fine Club and its traditions have been made possible and maintained by the unselfish efforts of leading residents over the years.  It is the hope of the author of this informal story of the Beach Club, that the generations to come will carry on with the same devotion with is necessary to preserve the character of the Club in the years ahead.

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