The Chappaquiddick Beach Club, historically important in the development of Edgartown and one of the key properties in its summer life, has been sold by Esther C. Conkling and Irene C. Wagenaar to Northam Warren Jr. and Dorothy C. Warren of New Canaan, Conn.
The Warrens in recent seasons have leased from Robert Marshall what is known as the Dr. Marshall house on Chappaquiddick. They will take title to the beach property on or before Oct. 1, and the beach club will be operated this summer, as in recent years, by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Conkling.
Mr. Warren has not announced any plans for the beach, but it is known that he was one of a number of summer residents who expressed willingness some time ago to take part in a syndicate for purchase of the beach. The syndicate eventually deferred action and allowed an option to lapse, although spokesmen said they hoped to go through with the project later.


Includes 1,800 Feet of Beach

The property acquired by the Warrens includes 1,800 feet of beach - all but a piece of the bend which Mrs. Conkling and Mrs. Wagenaar are reserving; four cottages, known as the bathing beach cottages; some 350 bathhouses; the main pavilion, snack bar and restaurant facilities; the laundry building across the Chappaquiddick road, together with a strip of land; and the water supply on the hill. Also included is a piece of land on the inner harbor.
With the beach property the Warrens acquire the familiar launch Charlesbank, and a separate agreement assures him of the right to use the landing at the former coal wharf on the Edgartown side of the harbor.
The sale of the Warrens ends a long succession of rumored purchases of the beach. Mrs. Conkling told the Gazette that group after group had expressed interest in the property, and that the recent syndicate was still making overtures in recent weeks. She made no comment on the purchase price except to say that it was satisfactory.
The bathing beach on Chappaquiddick was originally a venture of the late Edward Wells Chadwick and his son James E. Chadwick, the father of Mrs. Conkling and Mrs. Conkling and Mrs. Wagennar. The first three bathhouses were built in 1883, and within five years the number had increased to thirty-five. By 1890 there were fifty, and this was the year in which the Harbor View Hotel was built. The old Martha’s Vineyard Railroad, though in itself a failure, had brought summer visitors to Edgartown and helped stimulate interest in the town as an attractive resort.

Pavilion Once a R. R. Station

James E. Chadwick had an interest in the old railroad and, interestingly, the bathing beach pavilion was part of the Edgartown station and waiting room of the railroad. Several generations of Edgartown summer residents were to know the beach as an inseparable part of the life of the season. Crossing the harbor in the bathing beach launch was an experience in itself, and they would not have missed it. Children learned to swim at the beach, took part in the annual swimming meets there, and were still crossing in the Charlesbank in the middle life and advancing years. Other New England shore resorts had bathing beaches, but that on Chappaquiddick, a sweeping  crescent of clean sand shelving into the clear water of the harbor seemed unique - especially when considered in relation to the trip on the launch.
The Charlesbank was a battleship tender in its early career, before being brought to Edgartown.
Except for a few years in the thirties when it was leased to Harvey L. Williams, the beach has been operated continuously by members of the Chadwick family, most recently Mr. and Mrs. Conkling, who have carried on the familiar tradition. Mrs. Conkling said that a time had come when the burden of operation was too great, and the transfer of responsibility will be welcome.
Those who have used the beach since the beginning would make a good-sized Who’s Who, the latest of the great having been President and Mrs. Kennedy last summer. Bathers there have included generals, statesmen, judges, writers, artists, musicians, and the socially elect.
This season the beach will open on June 25 or 26, and Mr. and Mrs. Conkling say that they don’t dread the burdens and responsibility any more.

From the August 24, 1962 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:


Warren Suggests Plan for Chappy Beach Club

A proposal that the Chappaquiddick bathing beach “be organized on a real club basis, based on substantial property improvement with liberal guest facilities being made available for weekend, weekly or monthly visitors” is put forward by Northam Warren Jr., whose purchase of the property will be finally effected this fall, in a circular letter to the beach patrons.
The letter is as follows:
“After Many years of continuous operation during which Chappaquiddick Beach Club has been an important part of the summer activity of many Edgartown and Chappaquiddick residents, Esther and Joe Conkling have decided to relinquish their ownership. I have been fortunate enough to purchase it from them, effective Oct. 1, 1962.
“Naturally, many Edgartown and Chappaquiddick residents have been asking what will happen to the Chappaquiddick Beach Club, what the new plans are, etc.
“First of all, I would like to state quite positively that, in purchasing the Chappaquiddick Beach Club from the Conklings, I am doing so in the hope of being able to continue its present existence. I believe it can continue to offer to summer residents in this area a fine, safe, clean and even exciting place to sun, swim, sail, water ski, and, perhaps most important of all, just to relax.
“Unfortunately, I am not in a position myself to devote the many long hours to operate the Chappaquiddick Beach Club as the Conklings have.
“Secondly, for its continued maintenance and improvement to conform to these changing times, the Chappaquiddick Beach Club must operate at least to show enough profit to assure its continued existence as a permanent fixture.
“I know it is obvious to everyone that the years and the weather have taken their toll of the present facilities. Also, most people will recognize there have been and undoubtedly will be, further changes in the use of the Beach Club facilities by people in this area. Therefore, I think it is obvious that, because of this, some changes are indicated, and I have in mind these plans:
“1. That the Chappaquiddick Beach Club be organized on a real club basis, based on substantial property improvement with liberal guest facilities being made available for weekend, weekly or monthly visitors who would like to avail themselves of the facilities of the improved club.
“2. That plans be drawn up for Club. These, I believe, should be on a modest scale at first in direct proportion to the desires of the number of people who would indicate their continued support of the Beach Club. These plans would be designed with the following mind:
“(a) To modernize the bathing facilities, with increased emphasis on sailing, water skiing, skin diving.
“(b) to change the Beach Club so that increased social facilities could be made available for all, including facilities for dances, beach parties etc.
“(c) To offer facilities for visiting yachtsmen, such as hot showers, laundromat, quick snacks, etc.
“I know that everyone will agree that beach clubs per se are not generally great money-makers and that skillful management would be required to operate the improved club on a break-even basis. I am more than willing to take this chance but, at the same time, believe there must and should be substantial support for this project by those people who would benefit the most by the continued existence of the club rather than have it deteriorate to a point where its development on a real estate basis would be the only answer.
“Therefore, I am most interested in finding out how many people would be willing to become charter members of the new club on the basis of their owning shares of stock in the new club. Their modest investment would insure the continuance of the Chappaquiddick Beach Club, the improvement of the property and could be on a basis that their use of the new Chappaquiddick Beach Club for possibly a year or more would be completely on a no-charge basis.
“I recognize very clearly that there are many people who undoubtedly have their own views on the present Chappaquiddick Beach Club and what should be done for its future. The purpose of this memo, therefore, is to put forward these several ideas and to sincerely and earnestly enlist the support of those people who are convinced that there is a future for the Chappaquiddick Beach Club and that its continued existence would benefit residents of Edgartown and Chappaquiddick who have used these facilities in the past.
“I would appreciate, therefore, having as soon as possible your views and suggestions and would hope you would direct them to me by letter, by telephone or personally as to whether you would be willing to support a new Beach Club on some such basis as outlined above.”

From the February 15, 1963 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:


Chappaquiddick Beach Club Will Turn a Shining New Face Toward the Harbor

At this architect’s drawing shows, the Chappaquiddick Beach Club is not just being remodelled; it is undergoing a full-scale transmogrification. Northam Warren Jr. of New Canaan, Conn., a Chappy summer resident, bought the club last spring from Mrs. Joseph Conkling and Mrs. Bernard Wagenaar. It was operated last summer in its old familiar guise, and under its old management, and in the fall, the transformation began with a general dismantling of the old buildings.
The contractor, Robert B. Marshall of Chappy, is now concentrating on the task of getting the concrete foundations laid for the new buildings, no easy task in winter weather. The framing has been erected on the new service wing, to the left of the main building in the drawing, and connected by a covered passageway, and a good part of the roof has been constructed on this section.
Once the concrete is laid, Mr. Marshall hopes to be able to foil whatever bad spring weather comes by doing much of the construction and pre-assembling under the roof. Barring any unusual delays because of weather, the club is scheduled to begin operation on June 15.
The main building - the section with the chimney - will be a large recreation room, complete with fire place.
The service wing to the left will contain a snack bar and the manager’s office. On the water side of the building, there will be a terrace for tables and chairs.
Directly behind the main building is a section which Mr. Marshall designates as the wash house. It contains lavatories, private hot and cold water showers and dressing rooms. The more conventional bath houses may be seen in the foreground of the drawing.
All the buildings will have weathered cedar shingles on the roofs and vertical weathered planks for siding.
Besides these facilities, the club will also offer cabanas, the colorful tent-like structures which can be seen ranging along the waterfront, small, detached bath houses, pretty much the ultimate in privacy. Cabanas of this sort are something of a rarity on the Vineyard.
The new club was designed by James S. Jones, architect from Morristown, N. J. The new manager is Harold B, Kelley Jr., formerly of Falmouth.
Mr. Kelley said this week that the membership dues of the club have not been determined as yet. However, there will be several kinds of memberships, seasonal, monthly and fortnightly, in addition to a special weekend membership, encompassing a minimum of three days. Of course, members may invite guests to the club on a daily basis.
The plan calls for the continued use of the launch, Charlesbank, to transport members and guests from Edgartown to the club. But “old Charlie,” as Mr. Kelley called the vessel, is showing some signs of age, and so the plan to use her is still an indefinite one, depending on whether she can be put into shape by summer.