HISTORY OF WIANNO GOLF CLUB HOUSE
At the corner of Sea View Avenue and West Street in Osterville is the original Wianno Club Golf House. This historic building has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its role as a meeting place of the elite of the community, and the site of golf tournaments, which attracted nationally known players. In addition, it is notable as a nearly century-old example of unusual design by a prominent Boston architect.
The 14-room house is a Colonial Revival building of two stories, with a broad hip roof, with wings set at 35-degree angles at each end. It was constructed in the winter of 1916-1917, by the leading Osterville builders Daniel Brothers, Charles and Robert Daniels.
The architect was probably Horace S. Frazer, who redesigned the old Cotocheset hotel into the current clubhouse at this time. Mr. Frazer (1862-1931), was a prominent Boston architect with the firm Chapman & Frazer. He had a summer home on Wianno Avenue.
The original golf clubhouse, or headhouse, was a one story shingled building with wings on either side of the building, a plan that survives today. In front, a long rustic porch was supported by rough-hewn red cedar posts and topped with a cross-hatched railing (see photo attached).
The construction was the result of the decision of the Wianno Yacht Club in March 1916 to expand its activities to include tennis, croquet, golf and dancing. On April 1, 1916 the Wianno Yacht Club changed its name to Wianno Club, and purchased the Cotocheset House hotel on the waterfront, with its extensive acreage across the avenue.
Nine holes of a projected 18-hole golf course were laid out by Leonard (Len) Biles, the English-born golf professional who had come to the United States in 1912 to the Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Tarrytown, New York. Among his innovations at Wianno was his introduction of the spiny yellow gorse plant that abounds naturally on Scottish golf courses. Fortunately, it did not take hold on
The course opened in July 1916 on what are today’s holes 13 thru 18. Nine holes were added in 1920, designed by Donald Ross, who also redesigned Biles’s course. Mr. Biles went on to The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, the Holston Hills Club in Knoxville, and the course in Williamsburg, Virginia.
After the First World War the Wianno Club decided to build a new golf clubhouse where it is today, at 389 Parker Rd. Henry B. Day, founding treasurer of the club, who had the summer house across the avenue, facing Nantucket Sound, bought the original headhouse for $4500.
As agreed in the Mr. Day’s deed, the house was moved southwards on the lot, stripped of the plumbing for the new clubhouse, and rebuilt.
In 1926 Day sold it to Minnie Birk Jaeger of Chicago, a wealthy heiress to the fortune of Jacob Birk who owned one of the largest breweries in the windy city. It was probably at this time that the second floor was added and modified into popular Colonial Revival style.
The Jaeger family summered here for 36 years. In 1962 it was inherited by Margaret “Margot” Williamson Litt. Her architect husband Nathaniel Litt later became a clown with Ringling Brothers Circus, shown on the cover of Time Magazine February 20, 1970. The house has continued in the ownership of the Ellwood Fisher, Keith Merrick, Jean O’Brien and Carroll Swan families.
Published in the final number of The Barnstable Enterprise, Friday Januarry 11, 2013.