A History of Community
From our origin in 1952, the Mercer Island Beach Club has been grounded in a spirit of community togetherness. Taking advantage of a choice parcel of abandoned property on the shores of Lake Washington, we got our start when a group of 400 local families each pitched in $100 and rolled up their sleeves to get the land ready to house our private, membership-driven community center on the isolated southern tip of Mercer Island.
The land had initially been used for a Seattle Central Lions Club summer camp for youth in the 1930s. But it had been abandoned for more than 20 years when the earliest founders of the Mercer Island Beach Club recognized the value of the property, which included several acres of land and 675 feet of private waterfront.
Mercer Island Beach Club Founded
When the Articles of Incorporation were signed on July 17, 1953, the founders had secured pledges from 400 families, totaling more than $40,000. This original commitment to communal ownership and collective decision-making set the tone for the club, which continues to this day.
From the beginning, the Mercer Island Beach Club has been devoted to the enjoyment and development of our property, with member-owners helping to clear the land and get it ready for development. When the final deed was inked on April 15, 1954, MIBC was ahead of our time, operating as a non-discriminatory private club for 500 Mercer Island families.
The next step was creating programming for the children, youth, and adult family members affiliated with the club. Our celebrated swimming and tennis programs were among the earliest additions, along with a tradition of sharing meals at the club, which continues to this day.
Thanks to the athleticism and friendly leadership of our first swim coach, John Goode, the Mercer Island Beach Club Swim Team was undefeated during its inaugural 1957 season. Nearly 60 years later, we continue to lead the region in aquatic competition, which is always measured with a healthy dose of camaraderie and cheer.
Beach Club Improvements
By 1966, our member-owners voted to improve the club, giving special consideration to the success of our earliest swim teams, which had been practicing in the cold, choppy waters of Lake Washington. We also decided to build the clubhouse and two tennis courts. Thanks to the popularity of our tennis program and the lovely view from the courts, we added four additional courts in 1971.
Over the years, we have maintained our commitment to continually upgrade our property and facilities, ensuring that we can offer top-flight, state-of-the-art programming and amenities to our members. Since 1971, we have improved our grounds as well as adding a tennis support structure. In addition, we added food concessions in 1988, and by 1991, we had completed a whole new round of beachfront landscaping.
In the fall of 2003, Mercer Island Beach Club began a special exercise to commemorate our 50th anniversary and to envision our next 50 years. We asked how we could best preserve our unique traditions and facilities for future island families. And we considered how to sustain our identity as that spirited community, who rolled up our sleeves and cleared the land at the southern tip of Mercer Island. We also posed urgent questions around the need to renew our aging clubhouse, bring our facilities into compliance with modern safety codes, and address ongoing maintenance issues.
This spurred the birth of the Renewal Project. The Renewal Project included major seismic upgrades as well as the construction of a year-round fitness center, an eight-lane competition pool, and an activity pool featuring a slow, “lazy river” current. We also improved our irrigation, added additional grounds furniture and equipment, and upgraded our play areas to include a playground known affectionately as the “Big Toy” and a water slide called the “Big Slide.”
In true Mercer Island Beach Club spirit, we started with a call for volunteers, which went out in the fall of 2003. By June 30, 2006, thanks to the input and work of dozens of members, the project was complete, and we re-opened our renovated club.
We are now looking to the future of Mercer Island Beach Club, still imbued with the original spirit of our owner-members. We are committed to enjoying and continually improving our unmatched property. We maintain a sense of community and camaraderie. And when the time comes, we eagerly roll up our sleeves and work side-by-side to get the job done.