Club History

A chronology of key dates and important events.


Mid winter 1885 Thomas Lowe arrived to the Island of Key Largo aboard the steamer vessel Dispatch, and anchored in Dispatch Creek.

1885 - 1898

Lowe purchases 40 acres (more or less) on the Card Sound Bay side of the Island, which became the site that today comprises the Club property. Lowe sells the property to C. E. Chillingsworth an attorney.


W.A. Scott of Fargo, North Dakota purchase the property from Chillingsworth, and proceeds to build the two-story coral rock house portions which are incorporated into the clubhouse as it exists today.


Monroe County puts the road through to North Key Largo from Jewfish Creek on Key Largo. Card Sound Road was opened in 1927 with a wood swing bridge to get across from the mainland side.

1921 - 1933

The presidencies of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover during which the Club was farmed by the Scott family until 1932. The principle products were pineapples and key limes.


The Scotts sell the property to L.J. Stranahand. Later in that same year it was deeded over to the Roney Investment Company, also known as the Florida Year Round Club.

  • This is the first known date that the property and facility became named as The Key Largo AnglersClub. The main lodge/lobby is added on to the building.
  • Guest cottages were built along the waterfront. The South Cottage was built by a Dr. Rosengarten and occupied by his wife and six servants.
  • Dashiell Hammett detective story writer built the Hammet Cottage, which later became known as the Hoover Cottage.
  • A fellow named Dave Curtis was made the first manager of the Club.
  •  Famous marine artist Lynn Bogue Hunt wins the Key Largo Anglers Club 1933 Sailfish Championship.


Perhaps as a result of the Great Depression the Florida Year Round Club ceased, and the property was sold to George J. Johnstone. It was briefly operated as a public club and then was closed again in 1939. It would remain closed until 1945.


George Johnstone sells the property to Henry L. Doherty of City and Services and Company, Inc.


Jean Linderman meets Clint Campbell on the Club property. He is there to close the deal on the purchase of the property by the Camray Corporation and a silent partner. Clint and Kay Campbell would act as Resident Managers of the Club for the next 18 years.


The February 9, 1957 Newsletter reports that the Club started with 9 members in January 1947.


The membership had grown to 300.

  • The following were the first officers elected as social functionaries:

    W.W. “Cap” Ehrhart - 1st Commodore
    Rhodes Perdue - Vice Commodore
    Thorne Donnelly - Rear Commodore
    James L. Knight - Fleet Captain

  • The first swimming pool was installed on the north side of the Clubhouse.
  • Clint Campbell and his wife designed the Club burgee and blazer patch crest which evolved from a combination of the Campbell Clan Scottish tartan and the Burgee. Clint is also credited with building the lobby furniture which was completed around 1954.
  • Former President Herbert Hoover becomes one of the first members to join the Club, and begins his long association with fishing guide, Calvin Albury.

1948 - 1965

This era marked the growth of the Club as a private entity under the management of Clint Campbell and the regular presence of former president Herbert Hoover. Some important events are noted as follows.


First Board of Directors elected in addition to the Fleet Officers. The directors were:

Alton Jones - Honorary Chairman
James L. Knight - Chairman
Everett Dickerson - Jr. Member-Director
Richard Grant, Jr. - Member-Director, Secretary/Historian
Richard Heberling - Member-Director
Mundy Peale - Member-Director
Don F. Rayburn - Member-Director

The newly elected Board elected President Hoover as Honorary Life Commodore as the first order of business.

The portrait of President Hoover and guide Calvin Albury painted by Dr. Jean Teslof was unveiled and hung in the Clubhouse lobby Friday, March 5, 1954 and remains there to the date of this report.

1954 - 1955

It was around this time that the tradition began of displaying member’s house flags in the Clubhouse.


Benson Ford joins the Club

1955 - 1956

The Club joins the International Game Fish Association and also establishes the Club’s Annual Fishing Tournament.


The first navigational beacon was placed out on the breakwater.


Mr. and Mrs. Sam Greene spend the season living aboard the vessel Barnacle in the marina. “Ma” Virginia Greene created the Junior Fishing Awards Certificate for children.


Hurricane Donna impacts the Florida Keys causing significant paint and debris damage to the Club.


Club member and Honorary Lifetime Commodore Herbert Hoover passes away.


General Manager/Owner Clint Campbell dies unexpectedly of a heart condition ending his 18 year stewardship of the Club.


Whitney Campbell (Clint’s brother) takes over the management of the Club. Mrs. Kay Campbell sells her interest in the Club to Mr. Don Rayburn, Club member since 1947 and partner in the venture.


September 7-8, Hurricane Betsy passed over Key Largo as a Category 3 storm inflicting damage to the Club. A high water mark is notched in the wood siding by the Club office.


The first Junior Membership program was introduced with annual dues of $150 and an up to 35 age limit.


Card Sound Bridge is opened creating a much quicker route to the Club via Card Sound Road.

  • Whitney Campbell completes his tenure as manager, and Don and Ruth Paul took over the helm.
  • Mr. Rayburn continues to invest in improvements, 4 new cottages and notably the extension of the dining room to its current size.


Benson and Edith Ford purchase the Club from Mr. Don Rayburn ushering in a decade of active ownership by the Ford Family.


The maintenance barn is gutted by fire.


  • Jean Morgan becomes the first woman to be elected to the Board of Governors of the Club.


Don and Ruth Paul complete their management tenure at the Club and William Tucker, former manager of Lauderdale Yacht Club is hired as the new manager.


On August 12, Mr. Benson Ford died aboard his boat while up in Michigan. Mrs. “Eddie” Ford continues to own the Club and carry the Ford legacy forward.


On September 22, manager Bill Tucker died during heart surgery. Mr. Jim and Evelyn Fulton were hired as a management team coming from Ocean Reef Club.


On August 9th, Club owner Edith Ford passed away after her battle with cancer, thus ending the golden age when the family acted as benefactors supporting the club and its operations.


The Fulton’s contract was not renewed and Nick Lanni was hired as Director of Development to help transition the Club to a member-owned equity organization.

  • The Ford Estate leases the Club to the members for $1 per year for one year.


The Anglers Club Members Association, Inc. is formed as a Florida Corporation Not for Profit. The original officers and directors were:

Robert Lambert - President
Guy Bailey - Vice President
John Butler - Second - Vice President

Nick Lanni - Treasurer
Blanche Gibbs - Secretary

There shall also be honorary officerships known as the Flag Officers. The Flag Officers shall be the Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore and Fleet Captain. Appointment of the Flag Officers shall be in accordance with the By-Laws.

There shall be eleven (11) members of the Board of Directors, (which shall be known as the Board of Governors. The names of the persons who are to serve as Directors (Governors) until replaced pursuant to the By-Laws of the Corporation are as follows:

Robert L. Lambert
William Baker
John Butler
Blanch Gibbs
John Dingwall
Lucius Gordon

Gordon Ford
Lewis W. Peters
Guy Bailey
Fred Guardabassi
Bud Gifford

The original articles created 2 classes of membership - Regular and Junior. A Regular Member being any person over age 21 and, a Junior Member any person at least 21 and to age 35.


In December a final Master Plan for the development of the Club was presented to the Board, with the goal of purchasing the property from the Ford Estate.


On October 29th, two weeks before opening long time piano bar player, Billy Stubbs died unexpectedly. The original baby grand piano was donated in his name by several club members.


The new Club transition is virtually completed and a ground breaking ceremony for the development phase ensues. The ownership of the property is divided between the club facilities unit which retains approximately 7.5 acres and the Condominiums which surround the Club and encompasses the remaining property which is approximately 35 acres.


Enough units are pre-sold to fund the development project and construction begins on the cottage & villa units which will form the new and separate organization, Anglers Club, a Condominium.


Nick Lanni steps down from his position and Bruce Campbell is hired to be the General Manager for the Club facilities unit and newly formed Condominium Association.


By the fall of 1989 construction of 68 units in the first phase was completed and ready for occupancy.


In January of 1990 Chris Everhart is hired as a consultant to help market the remaining 34 undeveloped lots in the condominium.

  • In late April the Board decided to hire Chris Everhart to be the Club’s next General Manager. He and his wife Cassy moved into an apartment over the clubhouse.


An Interim Board is elected to set up the organizational structure for the Club’s future. Sherman Moss and Sam Davis, II are Co-Chairing the committee to revise the By-laws.

  • At the neighboring Ocean Reef Club, discontent with the management caused a temporary boycott by many members, leading to a significant increase in their visits as guests at the Anglers Club.
  • As a result of that exposure some 75 new members would join the Anglers Club coming from the Ocean Reef community. Their support was vital part of the Club’s financial and social rebirth.


The new By-laws were approved by the Equity membership at their annual meeting in March, kicking off the Commodore’s weekend events. The first officers and board members with staggered terms were:

Guy Bailey - Chairman
Paul Alandt - Vice Chairman
Nick Lann-i - Vice President
John Zick - Treasurer
Asa Allen - Secretary

1 Year Term
Guy Bailey
Gordon Ford
John Zick

2 Year Term
Paul Alandt
Sydney Balsbaugh
NIck Lanni

3 Year Term
Asa Allen
Dick Pender
Ken White

  • On Sunday night, August 24th the southern eye wall of Hurricane Andrew as a small category 5 storm with 150 mph winds passed over Ocean Reef and the Anglers Club. Damage to the Club was extensive. Most significantly, the roof over the second floor was completely blown away, ending up on the croquet lawn.
  • A Disaster Reconstruction Committee was appointed consisting of Ken White, Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Winship Todd, President of the Homeowners Association, and John Zick, Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman.
  • The Club was operating on a limited basis by December and a New Year’s Eve Party was held in the lobby. Bed sheets from the Housekeeping Department were used to cover the exposed walls in the lobby that had not yet been dry walled. It would take a massive effort and 13 months to put the Club back together in time for the fall opening party in 1993.
  • The total cost of reconstruction and restoration of Anglers Club properties was $1,750,982. Of this amount insurance paid $ 1,072,269. Members were assessed $563,100 – or $1,840 each – this amount being added to the value of an Equity Certificate. The new Equity Certificate value rose to $14,340.
  • The new coral rock harbor light on the breakwater was completed and dedicated to club member Sandy Beebee on November 14th, 1993. The light was modeled after the light at Eliot key and was the vision of another club member Paul Vartanian.


On November 29, 1993, upon recommendation from the Florida Keys Historic Preservation Board, the Monroe County Commissioners passes Resolution #502-1993:

Whereas, the Monroe County Board of Commissioner has considered the proposed designations and the recommendations of the Historic Florida Keys Preservation Board, the Director of Planning, and the Planning Commission; now therefore be it resolved by the board of county commissioners of Monroe County that:

The Clubhouse and Dockmaster’s building at the Key Largo Anglers Club are hereby designated as historical and cultural landmarks as provided by Article II of the Monroe County Code, Amended.

  • The Club Board commended General Manager, Chris Everhart for his work and effort helping secure the designation for the Club.
  • In July, upon the recommendations from the Marina Committee and the Board, the Equity members approved a By-Law amendment creating a new Non-Resident Yachting Membership. The limit for this class was set at 25 and with a requirement to commit to Equity Membership after 4 years.


A group of younger members put forth a plan to build a new pool complex to be designed by EDSA and maintaining the Club’s historic character.

  • A special meeting of the Board was held in mid-January, at which time a new class of membership (Equity Lifetime Membership) was proposed to fund the new pool project. The motion was approved, and a special meeting of the Equity members to amend the By-laws was called for January 28, 1994. The new class of membership was approved by the Equity members at their special meeting and at the Board meeting immediately after it was triumphantly announced that all 12 lifetime memberships had been sold. The financing was secured, and the dream of another generation was unfolding.
  • At the organization meeting of the new 1994-95 Board, Arthur Ruffing was appointed to replace John Zick as Chairman of the Finance Committee. John had played a crucial role in bringing the Club through perilous times and setting it on a sound financial course. His contributions extended beyond finance to By-law revisions and reconstruction following Hurricane Andrew and his decision to retire from the Board was received with expressions of gratitude for this truly distinguished Service.
  • The new pool facility was completed by fall opening.


At the March Annual Meeting, Membership Chairman, Dick Pender announces that all Equity memberships are taken and there is a wait list to join the Club.


Monroe County approved the Club’s request for a ten-year extension to the existing approved major development order. A key element was a reduction of the 34 lots remaining to 12 fee simple parcels for homes. The property is effectively divided to include a third form of ownership. Additionally, about six acres around the lakes were dedicated as a permanent green space.

  • An agreement is reached with the North Key Largo Utility Company to provide sewer service for the entire property. The existing on property club/homeowners operated sewer and water recycling plant was dismantled.
  • The Board approves a $200 per quarter capital assessment to continue through 1998 a total of $1,600. The proceeds to be used to build a new cart storage and staff housing building. The amount of the assessment is to be added to the value of the Equity certificate.

1997 - 2007

Prosperity and Growth


In the summer of 1997 the new cart storage and staff housing unit is completed

  • At the March 31st meeting of the Board an additional $1,000 capital assessment is approved to complete the funding of building a new concrete main dock, small boat floating dock and code compliant fuel storage and pumping system. Once again, the assessment amount is added to the value of the Equity certificate.


At its March 12th board meeting the Board approves $125,000 for a major renovation and expansion of the kitchen to include a push out of the rear wall and an addition of a walk-in cooler/freezer connecting to the bakery. The project is completed over the summer. The capital assessment is to be extended for 2 periods.

Additional Board Action
  • Increase the Value of an Equity Certificate to $20,000.
  • Set the new transfer fee at 20% of the value of an Equity Certificate to be paid by the buyer.
  • That the value of an Equity Certificate be increased by 2 for 1 for every $1 of equity assessment made.
  • At the June 5th budget meeting the Board approves the construction of a 3rd Har-Tru clay tennis court.


The old laundry room is demolished and a new laundry is building is built in its place. The new building includes a conference room, coin laundry, club laundry, apartment and attic storage.

  • The Board approves converting the Club to a 501-C7 tax exempt status.


A 60 KW generator is approved to service the clubhouse to be installed over the summer.

  • The wood small boat dock is demolished and replaces with a new 12 slip concrete floating dock. The project cost approximately $158,000.
  • At its June 2, 2000 board meeting the Board approves a $5,200 increase in the value of an Equity Certificate. It is noted that upon completion of the capital assessment already in place the value will be $30,000.


The Club’s Master Planner, EDSA - Edward Dunell Stone and Associates prepares a concept plan for future modification to the clubhouse.


After review by the Monroe County Historical Preservation Board, the Club secures a permit to extend the administrative offices adding a 20 X 20 wing to the east side of the building. This is the first significant architectural change to the exterior since Hurricane Andrew and the Pool and deck project.

  • In addition, in the interior of the clubhouse the men’s and ladies’ room were completely renovated.


The North Porch Kitchen was renovated. The new counter cabinets were built by David Bonomo using heart pine to match the existing Dade County Pine floors in the lobby. The administration office counter front was done as well.

  • At its May 24, 2006 meeting, The Monroe County Planning Commission approved the Ten Year Development Plan Extension with the condition that this will be the final extension of the original plan as modified.
  • April 6th 2009 General Manager Chris Everhart and a group of club members present A History of the Key Largo Anglers Club at the Ocean Reef Cultural Center. The club members of the group are The group also includes Jerry Wilkinson Director of the Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys

Author’s Note

This chronological history was prepared by Christopher Everhart, Club Historian in planning for a presentation of the Club’s history at the Ocean Reef Cultural Center, April 6, 2009, for the benefit of the Ocean Reef Historical Society. The major sources for the information provided herein are the Club’s history book, Board minutes, periodicals, local historic publications, and member recollections. The scope is limited primarily to major events related to the ownership of the property, building improvements or structures and governance. As with any such endeavor some inconsistencies may exist which others may shed light on at a future date.

Christopher B. Everhart, CCM
April 1, 2009