Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

1891 Images of the Old New York Athletic Club Facilities on Travers Island


On June 10, 1888, members of the New York Athletic Club gathered on Travers Island to inspect the grounds of the island that soon would become the site of the club's summer Clubhouse, athletic grounds, and water sports center.  The grounds of the island had been beautified and were being prepared for construction of the new clubhouse.  One amusing article described the travails of the club members as they made their way on foot from the Pelham Manor Station on the New Haven Branch Line to the Travers Isand grounds:

"At 10:30 a.m. a special train left the Grand Central Station for Pelham Manor, and seven carloads of athletes were shortly after deposited on the greensward amid the usual attributes of a country scene.  The jovial crowd at once strung out into a long line, which proceeded over typical country roads and footpaths to their destination in a kind of slow-going steeplechase over single-plank bridges, stone-walls, rail fences and all, to Travers Island."

Source:  Athletes in Their Summer Home, New-York Tribune, June 11, 1888, p. 2, col. 6.

Only a few weeks later, the New York Athletic Club opened its new boathouse facility on Travers Island.  The New-York Tribune reported as follows:

"The boat-house is probably the largest in the country, and is certainly one of the most complete. On the first floor are the boats, which include everything in that line from a single shell to a seven oared barge. The members expect in a short time to have a full complement of sailing vessels; and one man intends to add a small schooner to the collection. On the second floor are bath-rooms and long rows of lockers, each provided with a combination lock. On this floor also is a large veranda, from which can be obtained a splendid view of all the neighboring islands. A little to the left of the boat-house is the cafe, which was formerly a cottage, and which in its present use is only a temporary arrangement. About four hundred feet northeast of this a large club building with a frontage of seventy-five feet will be erected in a short time. The dining-room will occupy the whole of the first floor; and, in the upper floors there will be about fifty rooms for those who desire to live on the island.  The building will cost about $40,000, including the furnishing expenses."

Source:   In Their Fine New Boat-HouseNew-York Tribune, Aug. 12, 1888, p. 16, col. 2.

A year later, on June 8, 1889, five hundred members of the New York Athletic Club gathered again on Travers Island in Pelham Manor to inspect the Club's newly-completed summer home.  The following day, the New York Times reported:

"The building, designed by Douglas Smythe, is a handsome structure of wood in the prevailing style of Summer resort taverns of the better class, with shingled roofs and many peaks and gables. There are broad piazzas on every side. The interior decorations are plain but handsome, and an air of comfort pervades the place from the very doorway. The house faces the water, which is only a few yards from the main piazza. The electric light is used in every part of the building. There are spacious dining rooms, though the piazzas will undoubtedly be appropriated by diners on hot nights. The view from the cupola embraces a great expanse of the Sound. The grounds are tastefully laid out, and the track, a fifth of a mile in length, is said to be one of the best in the country. For the athlete, who, though he may not predominate in the New-York Athletic Club, is held in high esteem, the clubhouse and adjacent buildings provide every possible convenience."

Source: Travers Island, N.Y. Times, Jun. 9, 1889, p. 3.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog presents images of the New York Athletic Club's new clubhouse and its new boathouse published in a program prepared for the club's annual "Ladies Day" festivities on Travers Island in 1891.



Cover of the Program for the Forty-Sixth Games of the
New York Athletic Club Held on Travers Island on Saturday,
June 13, 1891 with Ladies Invited on this "Ladies Day."
Club" [Program], Jun. 13, 1891 (NY, NY:  New York
Athletic Club, 1891).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.



"Club House, Travers Island."
Club" [Program], Jun. 13, 1891 (NY, NY:  New York
Athletic Club, 1891).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.



"Boat Houses, Travers Island."
Club" [Program], Jun. 13, 1891 (NY, NY:  New York
Athletic Club, 1891).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the text of a few of the many news articles published in 1888 and 1889 about the opening of Travers Island, the opening of the new boathouse, and the opening of the New York Athletic Club summer clubhouse.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"ATHLETES IN THEIR SUMMER HOME.

-------

THE NEW-YORK ATHLETIC CLUB ENTERS ON ITS NEW CLUB-HOUSE AND GROUNDS.

Whenever clubmen have the treat of entering new quarters and vieing the results of the labors of a committee, always selected from those who are known for their good taste and their ability to act in accordance therewith, they are wont to show their appreciation in an enthusiastic manner. Such a spectacle was that witnessed when one of the firmst clubs of New-York took possession of its new house in Fifth-ave. a few weeks ago, but the enthusiasm displayed then could not compare for intensity with the feelings which were shown by half a thousand members of the New-York Athletic Club when they enjoyed the opening of their new summer home on Long Island Sound yesterday.

At 10:30 a.m. a special train left the Grand Central Station for Pelham Manor, and seven carloads of athletes were shortly after deposited on the greensward amid the usual attributes of a country scene. The jovial crowd at once strung out into a long line, which proceeded over typical country roads and footpaths to their destination in a kind of slow-going steeplechase over single-plank bridges, stone-walls, rail fences and all, to Travers Island. Among those who set their dusty feet on the island for the first time after its reconstruction were Walter Stanton, Thomas R. Keator and son, Joseph Longhman, G. Y. Gilbert, T. Warren Lawton, J.P. Thornton, Washington Morton, Frank Dickinson, William Murray, A. H. Curtis, B.C. Williams, Walter E. Peck, W.F. Shaw, Dr. Bartlett, Dr. Taylor, Charles T. Belden, William H. Raymond, James Schuyler, R. S. Luqueer, Carl Mayhoff, George H. Scott, J.J. O'Donahue, Edward Schenck, Frank Romayne, E. Clifford Potter, G. Hilliard, James Moore, Arthur H. Moore, J. Rhinelander Dillon, A. W. S. Cockran, Captain Frank Evans, Captain Waldo Sprague, Archibald Townsend, Charles Coster, Ed. Seibel, Edward Fuller, A. G. Mills, Dr. Guitteras, the ex-champion middle-weight of Harvard, Major Kipp, Judge Hyett, H. E. Toussaint, the champion swimmer, John Gulick, William E. Cable, Douglas Smythe, the club-house architect, J. H. Dalliva, of Detroit, Dr. D. McKeon, C. Cuskley, Max E. Moore and Edward Townsend.

Before noon a number of delegations arrived, among them being representative groups of the members of the New-York Riding Club, The Citizens' Bicycle Club, the Larchmont Yacht Club, the 7th Regiment and a number of rowing clubs. Shortly after noon T. Warren Lawton made a short address on behalf of President A. V. DeGolcouria, whom illness prevented from being present, and Mr. Lawton formally handed over the island to the club members, and, on the other hand, in the name of the club, thanked the members of the island committee for their endeavors."

Source:  Athletes in Their Summer HomeNew-York Tribune, June 11, 1888, p. 2, col. 6.

"IN THEIR FINE NEW BOAT-HOUSE.
-----
THE HANDSOME ISLAND HOME OF THE NEW-YORK ATHLETIC CLUB.

The members of the New-York Athletic Club have just taken possession of their handsome new boat-house, at Travers Island. Having sold all the buildings they formerly occupied at One-hundred-and-fiftieth-st. to the Young Men's Christian Association, they purchased thirty acres at Travers Island and during the last few months have been beautifying these new grounds. The situation is an admirable one; is easy of access, and yet sufficiently isolated to insure privacy. The island is connected with Glen Island by ferry-boats; and yesterday to a Tribune reporter approaching the boat-house from that direction a gala appearance was presented. Hundreds of the club members were bathing, boating or sitting on the broad verandas which surround the building.

The boat-house is probably the largest in the country, and is certainly one of the most complete. On the first floor are the boats, which include everything in that line from a single shell to a seven oared barge. The members expect in a short time to have a full complement of sailing vessels; and one man intends to add a small schooner to the collection. On the second floor are bath-rooms and long rows of lockers, each provided with a combination lock. On this floor also is a large veranda, from which can be obtained a splendid view of all the neighboring islands. A little to the left of the boat-house is the cafe, which was formerly a cottage, and which in its present use is only a temporary arrangement. About four hundred feet northeast of this a large club building with a frontage of seventy-five feet will be erected in a short time. The dining-room will occupy the whole of the first floor; and, in the upper floors there will be about fifty rooms for those who desire to live on the island.

The building will cost about $40,000, including the furnishing expenses. There are a number of smaller buildings, and of all them and a small stable in the rear are painted a dark red; and, surrounded by beautiful groves, and lawns on which are a number of tennis courts, they present a beautiful appearance. About ten acres of the property of the club is marsh-land, which it is their intention to fill up and raise to the level of the surrounding grounds. Between the cafe and the site of the proposed new club-building is a fifth of a mile cinder track. The governing board of the club at present consists of twenty-one directors, who have the power to appoint all sub-committees."

Source:  In Their Fine New Boat-House, New-York Tribune, Aug. 12, 1888, p. 16, col. 2.

"TRAVERS ISLAND.

The new Summer home of the New-York Athletic Club on Travers Island, near Pelham Manor, on the Sound, was opened yesterday for inspection by the members and their friends. The building, designed by Douglas Smythe, is a handsome structure of wood in the prevailing style of Summer resort taverns of the better class, with shingled roofs and many peaks and gables. There are broad piazzas on every side. The interior decorations are plain but handsome, and an air of comfort pervades the place from the very doorway. The house faces the water, which is only a few yards from the main piazza. The electric light is used in every part of the building. There are spacious dining rooms, though the piazzas will undoubtedly be appropriated by diners on hot nights. The view from the cupola embraces a great expanse of the Sound. The grounds are tastefully laid out, and the track, a fifth of a mile in length, is said to be one of the best in the country. For the athlete, who, though he may not predominate in the New-York Athletic Club, is held in high esteem, the clubhouse and adjacent buildings provide every possible convenience.

A large majority of the members, of course, do not go to Travers Island to train or to exhibit their skill on the track or in the boats. They like to sit on the piazzas and watch the crews at practice on the placid waters that are shielded from the wind by the cluster of islands in front of Travers Island, which is not an island at all now, but is joined to the mainland by an artificial handle, so that, seen from a balloon, it would resemble a doorknob on a door. The billiard room and bowling alleys are handsomely fitted up, and the many bedrooms are light, airy, comfortable, and furnished with perfect taste.

Besides a portrait of the late William R. Travers, whose memory will ever be cherished by this clud, the only art work in the new house at present is a decorative panel by H. S. Mowbray, given to the club by Mr. Thomas B. Clark, which is placed in the main hall over the spacious open fireplace, bearing the motto: 'When friends meet, hearts warm.' The fireplace was piled high with hickory logs yesterday, and there will come a night when the east wind blows fiercely from over Whitestone way, when it will be good to have them lighted. Mr. Mowbray's panel is called 'The Month of Roses.' The figures are four young women in soft draperies. The prevailing tones are delicate shades of green and red. The girls are very pretty. They do not, perhaps, exactly symbolize the purpose of an athletic club, but, the members feel that it is well to have them there.

At least 500 members of the club visited the island yesterday. Next Saturday, when a public reception will be held, with games, and the eight-oared crew will be out, 5,000 persons are likely to test the resources of the steward and the chef. The eight-oared crew was out for practice yesterday. They went up and down their course pulling as one man, and a good one, too. They sneaked over to David's island and beat the pretentious little Government steamboat in a race over to the mainland. The David's Island band kindly went over to the clubhouse in the evening, and the melody they contributed to the informal but pleasing proceedings of opening day was so well appreciated that the cares of the day are likely to be dispelled by music on many future nights at Travers Island."

Source: Travers IslandN.Y. Times, Jun. 9, 1889, p. 3.

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I previously have written about the New York Athletic Club facilities on Travers Island.  Below is a linked listing of such writings.

Mon., Nov. 30, 2015:  Another Detailed Account of the 1901 Fire that Detroyed the Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island.

Tue., Dec. 23, 2014:  The Original Summer Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club in 1889, Shortly After it Was Built.

Mon., Jun. 16, 2014:  1892 Images of Travers Island NYAC with an Important Description of the Clubhouse and Facilities.

Thu., Jan. 23, 2014:  Another Account of the Devastating Fire that Destroyed the Travers Island Clubhouse of New York Athletic Club in 1901

Fri., Sep. 4, 2009:  1901 Newspaper Article About Fire That Burned New York Athletic Club Clubhouse on Travers Island.

Thu., Apr. 28, 2005:  Ladies' Day on Travers Island in the 19th Century.

Thu., May 26, 2005:  The New York Athletic Club's Opening of the 'New Summer Home' on Travers Island in 1889.

Tue., Jun. 21, 2005:  Life at Travers Island in the 1890s.

Thu., Aug. 11, 2005:  How Dry I Am:  Pelham Goes Dry in the 1890s and Travers Island Is At the Center of a Storm.

Wed., Dec. 21, 2005:  An Early Sketch of the First Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island in Pelham.

Thu., Jul. 19, 2007:  Members of the New York Athletic Club Were Duped Into Believing the Club Created a Small Nine-Hole Golf Course in Pelham Manor in 1897.

Fri., Jul. 20, 2007:  Account of Early Baseball in Pelham:  Pelham vs. the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island in 1897.

Wed., Nov. 21, 2007:  Baseball on Travers Island During the Summer of 1897.

Thu., Nov. 22, 2007:  August 1896 Description of Cycle Route to Travers Island in Pelham Manor.

Fri., Nov. 23, 2007:  The Festivities of the Huckleberry Indians of the New York Athletic Club Off the Shore of Pelham Manor on July 12, 1896.

Mon., Nov. 26, 2007:  Box Score of a Baseball Game Played on Travers Island in Pelham Manor in July 1896.

Thu., Feb. 7, 2008:  Village Elections in Pelham in 1900 - New York Athletic Club Members Campaign Against the Prohibition Ticket in Pelham Manor.

Mon., Jan. 19, 2009:  Photograph of Members of the New York Athletic Club Shooting Traps on Travers Island in 1911.

Tue., Feb. 17, 2009:  The New York Athletic Club Opens Its New Clubhouse on Travers Island in Pelham in 1888.

Wed., Feb. 18, 2009:  The New York Athletic Club Opens Its New Travers Island Boathouse in 1888.

Thu., Feb. 19, 2009:  The Old Hunter House Burns to the Ground in an Arson Incident on Travers Island on April 4, 1889.

Wed., Mar. 4, 2009:  "Ladies' Day" on Travers Island in Pelham Manor in 1894.

Tue., Mar. 24, 2009:  1897 Photograph of Visitors Streaming to Athletic Outing on Travers Island in Pelham Manor.

Wed., Oct. 28, 2009:  Article About the June 10, 1888 Opening of Travers Island Facility of the New York Athletic Club.

Tue., Aug. 18, 2009:  New York Athletic Club Board of Governors Decided to Mortgage Travers Island in 1895.

Mon., Apr. 12, 2010:  New York Athletic Club Stage Coach Accident Leads to Death of Pelham Manor Man.


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