By 1897 most of White Lake's bustling sawmills had given way to cottages and small hotels. Promoters advertised the area's cool temperatures as relief from the summer heat of cities and drew thousands of people to the area, many from Chicago. During the winter of 1902-3 the White Lake Yacht Club formed. The club hired Chicago architect Robert Rae, Jr. to design the clubhouse, which opened in 1906 with a large ballroom and bays for boats.
By 1922 summer tourists were traveling more by car than by boat, and golf surpassed sailing in popularity. The White Lake Yacht Club fell into disrepair. In 1925 Henry Sturtevant saved the building, mostly with his own funds, and Clarence Pitkin brought national power boat races to White Lake. Interest revived and the club reopened, offering a sailing school, boat races, swimming lessons, and social events to members and their families.