When John Lincklaen arrived on the current Cazenovia Club site in 1793 he discovered two fishermen already camping there along the lake. Today a stone in the ground on the right as you enter the club (opposite the parking lot) commemorates Lincklaen’s arrival.
In 1891 the first Cazenovia Club was founded by a group of prominent men who had family ties to Cazenovia, but lived in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh and other cities and spent part or all of their summers with their families in Cazenovia. At the time there was also a subscription Club called the Owahgena Club that was operated by L. Wolters Ledyard owner of the property where the current Cazenovia Club resides. The group founding the new Club apparently found that their interests were not fully served and decided to start their own competing Club. A Clubhouse was built for the new Club on Albany Street (on the property now owned by the College). This property backs up to Carpenter’s Pond and at one time a tennis court and access to the dike enabled the new Club to provide members with a variety of amusements. This new Clubhouse burned down in 1893 (by actions of an arsonist who was responsible for several Cazenovia building fires) and in 1894 the current building (of stone construction) was built for the Club. In these times sailing was a major activity of the Club.
In 1897 this Club fell into difficulties and all of the property of the Club was sold. In 1911 a reincarnation of the Club occurred, again through actions of a group of prominent men, and a second Cazenovia Club was formed. In the interim the Owahgena Club continued to operate on the Club’s current premises as a subscription club. In 1916 the Cazenovia Club decided to purchase the property of the Owahgena from the daughter of Mr. Ledyard and has operated here since that time. The current Cazenovia Club Corporation was incorporated on November 11, 1916. In 1920 a decision was made to establish a holding corporation and the Club premises and capital property were sold to a new corporation called the Owahgena Holding Corporation. Since that time the Club has leased the facilities from the holding corporation (which has shareholders and a separate Board and Officers).
Thus the Club was established as an organization of friends and close family members who enjoyed being together and in making the Club their social center for their summers in Cazenovia. It was natural for the Club to provide a variety of interests for these families and sailing, waterfront activities, tennis, activities for the children and dining and dancing were introduced over the years. We tend to refer to the Club as “the tennis club” but it is, in fact, more of a family compound and has little or no relationship to clubs like Sedgwick Farms or Eastside Tennis Club. Tennis is just one of the activities popular with members and care has been taken over the years to ensure that children of members are introduced to tennis as a fun, lifetime game and not as a highly competitive experience .
As you might expect, members of these old Cazenovia families desired, from time to time, to extend privileges to non-member friends and this led to the extended family structure that exists today. As you are aware you don’t decide to join the Cazenovia Club, you are invited to join and are accepted by the membership following a period of introduction to the existing members and Board of Governors. This is probably the most sensitive, and misunderstood aspect of the Club. The Board of Governors takes this responsibility very seriously, recognizing that they represent many member families, some dating back to the original founding families, in acting on new member proposals. In essence, you are not accepted to membership to a Club organization, you are accepted into the extended family.