Carlouel, founded in 1934 but not incorporated until later years, was the first of its kind in the area. Originally founded by Theron R. Palmer and Garrett A. Hobart, Carlouel began as a small cabana club. One hundred local families were invited to join, each paying one hundred dollars in annual dues. Paul F. Randolph assembled the real estate that became the Club property and adjacent home sites.
When the issue of naming the Club was discussed, it was easily solved by combining the first syllables of the names of the founders’ wives - Caroline Hobart, Louise Palmer, and Eleanor Randolph. The Club was thus named Car-lou-el.
In 1947, Mr. Palmer, sole owner at the time, sold the Carlouel Company to the original 100 members. Each member paid $1,000 for their stake. It was at that time that the Carlouel Corporation was formed. Alex C. Liggett became the first Commodore and a Board of Governors was formed the same year.
Over the years, membership has grown to approximately 400 active members. It was not until 1954 that Carlouel functioned twelve months of the year. Prior to that time, it was open for the winter months only. However, dances, picnics and great camaraderie were evident during World War II. While the Club was not officially open, members frequently hosted dinners and parties doing all the work themselves. In the beginning, Carlouel was active as a yacht club, but the closing of the Caladesi Pass after Hurricane Elena in 1985, along with the dredging for Island Estates to the southeast, made access to the waterways difficult.
In the mid 1950s, a fire destroyed part of the Carlouel’s original structure. During the reconstruction, the decor changed from casual to a more formal appearance. Later improvements included enclosing the bay front terrace, adding the Palmer Room, building a sea wall, roque court, swimming pool, tennis courts, and additional cabanas. The short-course Olympic pool was added in 1962.
As the Club grew in membership, it also grew in tradition. None was more celebrated than Sasparilla - the annual Gasparilla spoof that showcases the Club’s variety of membership talent. In addition, the annual Christmas season at Carlouel never fails to elicit enthusiastic participation. The annual Flag Raising, Changing of the Watch, Stone Crab Dinners and Lobster Dumps have all become favorite traditions at Carlouel.