The Houston Yacht Club was organized in 1897 by a group of prominent citizens. Members met in the Binz Building in downtown Houston and were led by the first Commodore, Dan E. Kennedy. After Kennedy's death in 1904, the boatmen reorganized as the Houston Yacht and Power Boat Club, receiving a charter from the State of Texas in 1905. Financial difficulties forced the group to reorganize, and the Houston Launch Club was formed in 1906. A clubhouse designed by architect R.D. Steele, was completed on Buffalo Bayou in 1910. The members moved to a new Spanish mission clubhouse designed by architect Wyatt Hedrick in 1927, and retained the Houston Yacht Club name.
The club began hosting regattas in the early 1900s and has hosted local, regional, national and world championships. Members have raced in all levels of competition, including the Olympics.
Although primarily a private boating club, the organization has supported community activities and was active in the development of the ship channel. During time of war, members have offered their crafts for service, and have helped patrol the ship channel, bay and Gulf. The clubhouse has served as a refuge for area residents during natural disasters.