Annapolis Yacht Club: The Hard Work Now Begins

Published on December 14th, 2015

Following the devastating fire that gutted two floors of the Annapolis Yacht Club on December 12, leaders of the 130-year-old organization vowed to rebuild.

“It’s pretty sad. But it’s just physical. We’ll fix it,” said Debbie Gosselin, AYC’s vice-commodore.

The cause of the blaze and the estimated damage in dollars remain under investigation. The bulk of the second and third floors of the building were gutted by the fire that took 90 firefighters about an hour and 45 minutes to get under control. The blaze was declared out by about 7 p.m..

Mayor Mike Pantelides said his staff was already in discussions about possibly letting the club use city space temporarily. Other than finding a temporary facility to continue club activities, he said the priority is finding work for club employees.

“There are a lot of people with good job skills here and we will try to connect with other businesses to help them out,” Pantelides said.

Club leaders said they would find a way to provide for employees through the holidays. “The staff is at the core of the community here at AYC,” Commodore Rod Jabin said. “We are committed to make sure they are taken care of.”

Once a temporary facility is found the club hopes to keep as many employees as possible working.

Work was already underway removing salvageable ship models and their glass cases, but there did not seem to be much to be saved from the second and third floors, at least on the Spa Creek side of the building where the fire was concentrated.

Gosselin said luckily that many of the historic documents and other items had been removed to a secure facility as part of an archival effort started three years ago.

“I did not see much of anything that was salvageable on the second and third floor areas,” said Capt. Janet Wiseman, city Fire Department spokeswoman.

The Annapolis Yacht Club was never required by the city to add sprinklers, an absence fire officials said might have resulted in more extensive damage in Saturday’s devastating blaze.

“Sprinklers would have made a drastic difference,” said Wiseman. “They would have saved or prevented the incident. Sprinklers hold a fire in check until we get there. They save not only people, but structures and buildings.”

The last major renovations to the yacht club property were in 1995, when the 1963 structure was modified. The present clubhouse replaced an existing structure that was built in 1897, according to a survey by the city’s Historic Preservation Division.

“This is heartbreaking for everybody, we are all deeply saddened,” Jabin said. “But this is a building and a city made of more than bricks and mortar. It is a community. We will rebuild and it will be better than it was before.”

Source: Capital GazetteCapital Gazette

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