Newport This Week

Ida Lewis Yacht Club

Coordinates: 41.4781581 N, -71.3231065W
Painting by John Grosvenor

Painting by John Grosvenor

Upon her death on Oct. 24, 1911, the bells and horns blew in honor of Idawaley Zorada Lewis, and flags were flown at half-mast. In 1924, the Coast Guard renamed Lime Rock Light as Ida Lewis Lighthouse.

In 1928, Arthur Curtis James, a Newport resident, railroad baron and former New York Yacht Club commodore, purchased Lime “Lewis” Rock. James created Ida Lewis Yacht Club in the original lighthouse, and was commodore until 1932.

As an avid seaman and sailor, James wanted a small boat sailing club in Newport. His goal was to encourage small boat fleets back to the harbor. He had sailed around the world on his much larger boat, “Aloha.” However, he missed the small boat sailing from his childhood.

During the America’s Cup years, before the New York Yacht Club ac­quired Harbour Court, ILYC served as NYYC’s Newport station. Hosting the NYYC burgee on its flagpole, the Ida Lewis members volun­teered their club for these events.

From these beginnings, mem­bers have competed in international sailing competitions, including the Olympics. The club is well-equipped to host regattas, events and junior sailing activities. Fortunately, the club has maintained its tradition of being a family club with volunteers who run the events. It has a full-time staff to manage the daily activities, maintenance, launches and dining services.



Ida Lewis Yacht Club is known worldwide. The junior sailing pro­gram continues every summer, teaching and coaching small dinghy sailors. Adult sailing pro­grams are also taught on small boats. Members have small classic Herreshoff sailing boats to modern foiling Moths.

Arthur James and Ida Lewis were local residents who loved being on the water more than any­thing. Lewis was an American icon and James was the one to keep her legacy alive by creating ILYC. The lighthouse is listed on the R.I. Na­tional Register of Historic places.

Gretchen Baum

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