WIANNO CLUB HOUSE

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
Cape Cod.
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.

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4 Responses to “WIANNO CLUB HOUSE”

  1. Chris Rapp Says:

    Jim,
    I’ve been checking back monthly and not seeing any activity on your blog. Are you well, suffering from writers block, or calling it a day? Miss your historical presentations.
    Chris

    • jimcotuit Says:

      Sorry not to have replied sooner. When they reconfigured WordPress I “lost” the comments, now recovered. Thanks for your concern. I will post a photo of historian Floss Rapp, co-founder of our historical society. I hope it will show up in a search next week.

  2. Bill C Says:

    I WILL ATTEMPT TO PASTE THE PATRIOT 1896 Early File piece here for reference. I venture to say if it was not Seapuit a knowledgable author might well have said….. this is the second course to come to O’ville …….. therefore, I venture to say the author is most likely to referring to Seapuit G C

    1896 B Patriot Early Files (date 2006)

    Of late we find the game of Golf is often noticed and written about, showing the importance, as a pastime and health giving and attractive sport, it is becoming in our country, as well as in Great Britain and on the Continent of Europe. The game has been popular in Scotland for more than seven hundred years, but owing to our busy habits it has only begun to be known in this country for the last five years, but the last year its growth has been so rapid and so great that unless a locality, where summer people go for their outing, has a course where they can play. The summer cottagers of Wianno and Osterville, looking into the future , laid out a course on West Bay of nine links, (about two and half miles in length,” which have been pronounced equal in variety of surface or in natural hazards, to any links known, and which are open to every citizen or visitor of Barnstable on equal terms. It has required a large outlay of money to do this work, and we feel that every tax payer of the town will be benefitted as it cannot fail to offer the only attraction which we lacked to induce settlers to locate among us.

    • jimcotuit Says:

      Thanks for this addition to the story of golf on Cape Cod. Yes, this refers to “Daddy” Parsons’ Seapuit Course, located mostly in Marstons Mills west of South County Road, bought by Davis, and today called Seapuit. There is a map of the 9 holes in the Osterville Historical Society, showing the headhouse at today’s Seapuit Rd., with holes going north along the Marstons Mills River, turning uphill to Tepee Hole, and back south paralleling South County Rd.

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