Origins of the Country Club at Pelham and the Move to its New Clubhouse in 1890
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In late 1883, a group of Pelham Manor residents and New York City "club men" organized a new "Country Club" in Pelham Manor dedicated to the enjoyment of all "legitimate sports." By 1884, the Club commenced operations on a 34-acre tract between Shore Road and the Long Island Sound with a club headquarters in the Italian Villa-style mansion known as "Oakshade" built some forty years earlier by well-known Hudson River School artist David Lydig Suydam. The club grounds were located adjacent to the Bartow-Pell property.
I have written extensively of the history of the mansion used by the Country Club as its clubhouse during the 1980s. See Mon., Mar. 03, 2014: The Suydam Estate known as “Oakshade” on Shore Road in the Town of Pelham, built by James Augustus Suydam.
By 1889, the Country Club at Pelham Manor was thriving. It was outgrowing its facility on Shore Road. The Club, however, was organized at precisely the time New York City was engaged in purchasing estates in the region to develop Pelham Bay Park (before annexing the region, as a park, into the city in 1895).
The handwriting was on the wall for the Club's Shore Road facility in the old Suydam estate that stood in the midst of what shortly would become a public New York City Park. In 1889, the Country Club at Pelham Manor decided to move a few hundred yards away across Pelham Bridge onto Throggs Neck on the opposite side of Pelham Bay.
On May 4, 1890, the New-York Tribune published a magnificent article, with sketches, describing not only the origins of the club, but also its lovely new facility on Throggs Neck. Although the article included mistaken dates on the origins of the club, it provided a wealth of information about the early years of the club and information about the new clubhouse and surrounding acreage.
When considered in the context of what is reliably known of the history of the Country Club at Pelham Manor, the New-York Tribune article adds an important part to the story of the history of the club. Setting aside clearly erroneous dates (such as the telephone conversations in 1875, one year before the telephone was invented), it appears that in the autumn of 1883, James M. Waterbury sat down at the telephone in his lovely home known as "Pleasance" near Bartow-on-the-Sound and asked "Central" (i.e., the operator) successively to ring each of thirteen significant members of the New York social scene to discuss setting "up a club for the encouragement of country fun of various kinds."
Importantly, the article documents the thirteen men whom Waterbury called that day. Waterbury and those thirteen men together became the "Governing Committee" of the club and remained so for many years. Those men were: George A. Adee, Henry A. Coster, John S. Ellis, John C. Furman, Edward Haight, Charles D. Ingersoll, C. Oliver Iselin, Frederick W. Jackson, Colonel De Lancey Kane, E. C. Potter, Alfred Seton, Jr., Thomas W. Thorne, James M. Waterbury, and Francis A. Watson. According to the article, during each of those important telephone calls, James M. Waterbury:
"invited them all to his house to perfect the idea over a jolly supper, with its usual accompaniments. It is needless to say that they all came and that the club organization was accomplished with enthusiasm and a rush. The assembled organizers constituted themselves the governing committee, and James M. Waterbury was elected president; W. S. Hoyt, vice-president; William Kent, secretary, and H. A. Coster, treasurer. During the winter the new project was a leading topic of conversation in Westchester County, and in New-York society was greatly interested in its success."
A great success it was. The Country Club, as it was known, outgrew its facilities and moved across Pelham Bridge only six years later. The images below, and the text of the article, shed much light on the club's move and its new facility.
Source: 'MID WESTCHESTER'S HILLS,
Source: 'MID WESTCHESTER'S HILLS,
Source: 'MID WESTCHESTER'S HILLS,
* * * * *
"'MID WESTCHESTER'S HILLS.
DAY PASTIMES AT THE COUNTRY CLUB.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE HANDSOME HOUSE AND BEAUTIFUL GROUNDS - SKETCH OF THE ORGANIZATION - WHO ITS MEMBERS ARE.
Telephones have been used for almost all purposes, some decidedly good, some decidedly bad, and some indifferent. Matches have been made by telephone, courtships have been carried on over them, and lovers' quarrels over the wire have often afforded amusement for the young women usually known and addressed as 'Central.' To get a fair idea of the possibilities of the telephone, however, one must see the Country Club of Westchester County. This fashionable and prosperous organization, with its 117 acres of land (worth between $3,000 and $4,000 an acre), its magnificent new club-house on Pelham Bay, and its membership roll of 450 of the best-known names in and about New-York, was, strange as it may seem, organized by telephone.
It was on an autumn evening in 1875 [sic; typographical error; intended as1885, though the club was conceived in 1883 and organized in 1884] that James M. Waterbury went to the telephone in his luxurious library at 'Pleasance,' his country place near Bartow-on-the-Sound, and, much to the disgust of the young woman at the central office, called up successively George A. Adee, Henry A. Coster, John S. Ellis, John C. Furman, Edward Haight, Charles D. Ingersoll, C. Oliver Iselin, Frederick W. Jackson, Colonel De Lancey Kane, E. C. Potter, Alfred Seton, Jr., Thomas W. Thorne and Francis A. Watson.
To each of the fourteen he expressed his opinion that it would be a decidedly good idea to get up a club for the encouragement of country fun of various kinds, and by way of starting the ball rolling, he invited them all to his house to perfect the idea over a jolly supper, with its usual accompaniments. It is needless to say that they all came and that the club organization was accomplished with enthusiasm and a rush. The assembled organizers constituted themselves the governing committee, and James M. Waterbury was elected president; W. S. Hoyt, vice-president; William Kent, secretary, and H. A. Coster, treasurer. During the winter the new project was a leading topic of conversation in Westchester County, and in New-York society was greatly interested in its success.
A HOUSE SECURED.
During the winter the organizers had several meetings, and on January 1 the old Morris homestead was leased and dedicated to the cause of good-fellowship. In the spring the club moved into the house, and from that time until this there has been no doubt about the club's success.
Polo was taken up with the formation of the club, but it was not until 1886 that the members went in for hunting. In that year Mr. Waterbury bought a pack of hounds and presented them to the club. Since then drag hunting has become popular, and it is now carried on with more attention to detail than is usual with this form of sport.
Three or four years ago members of the Country Club began to see that more room would soon be needed, and that the old Morris place, beautiful as it was, was decidedly too cramped for comfort. It was with an illy conceived pang that the members thought of giving up the picturesque old red house, with its broad lawns and gigantic trees. Pleasant associations were connected with its every foot of ground. Fascinating architectural drawings and visions of larger rooms for dancing, dining and ordinary accommodation at length reconciled those to whom the old place seemed dearest, and the moving and changes have been accomplished most satisfactorily. A year ago last October the club bought the old Van Antwerp place on Pelham Bay, and just a year from the date of the purchase the new house was finished and ready to be occupied.
The new house is pure Colonial in style, and a pleasant departure from the Queen Anne designs in country architecture. The exterior is of unstained shingles, the color of which has been agreeably softened by exposure to the elements. The balconies, balustrades and trimmings of the porches are of white. From the porch on the water-front side a fine view of the Sound's blue waters may be enjoyed, and the long line of deck chairs now ranged upon it shows that the view is appreciated.
THE HANDSOME OLD GATE.
The first thing that strikes the visitor to the Country Club is the massive stone gateway through which the house is approached. This gate way formerly adorned the Castle Inn at New-Rochelle, and was presented to the club. It is thoroughly in keeping with the old-looking house, and is an antiquarian treasure of which every member has reason to be proud.
As the visitor enters the house his attention is attracted by the main hall. It reaches through the water-front side, where it terminates in a bay window as large as a gamekeeper's cottage. This window is truly a fascinating spot for engaged couples. The view from it tends to inspire sentiment, and the soft draperies screen its occupants from the unhallowed gaze of incorrigible bachelors and helpless Benedicts.
INTERIOR OF THE HOUSE.
In the hall is a fireplace of exceptionally beautiful design, and, like the woodwork of the apartment, it is entirely of white. The walls are in a delicate shade of terra-cotta. The apartment is twenty-five feet broad by thirty-six feet long. To the left of the entrance hall is a smaller hall, from which a true Colonial staircase leads to the regions above. At the right of the entrance hall is a smaller hall, from which a true Colonial staircase leads to the regions above. At the right of the entrance is the women's drawing-room, which is, like the hall, fitted in white and furnished in the daintiest French way. Beyond the drawing-room is the dining room, its walls richly colored in yellow and deep olive green. The room is twenty-five by thirty-one feet, and a large fireplace, together with its warm walls and ceiling, makes it an unusually comfortable winter apartment. Adjoining the drawing-room is the great assembly-room, the largest apartment in the building. It is thirty-two by fifty-three feet and finished in oak. Burning logs crackle in the enormous fireplace in winter, and after a long and cold drive this room is about the best place to get warm at within reach of New-Yorkers. The assembly-room is decidedly the favorite lounging place of the members. In it are the billiard and pool tables and files of papers and periodicals of all kinds, from sporting to religious.
Beyond the assembly-room is the card-room, complete and comfortable in every detail. At the back of the main dining-room are two private dining-rooms, either of which will seat a score of feasters. Beyond them is the butler's pantry and a most commodious series of 'offices.'
Upstairs are the sleeping apartments for the use of members. The bachelors have their snug quarters in the western wing, while the dainty boudoirs and sleeping-rooms of the women are at the other end of the house.
AQUATIC AND OTHER SPORTS.
The choice of the site for the house was particularly happy. To the water there stretches away a series of terraces that are utilized for tennis and for pigeon shooting. George A. Adee, the chairman of the Tennis and Boating Committee, has left nothing undone that will help along his two special sports, and everything in his department is in shape for the summer season. Comfortable piers, boathouses and floats are in readiness, and the sailing of small craft will begin shortly.
There is no doubt that gayety at and about the Country Club will be more continuous this summer than ever before. From the first the organization had fewer existing difficulties to contend with than most similar organizations. Westchester has been a county of country seats for many generations, and there were enough influential families in the neighborhood to take hold of the enterprise at its beginning and secure its social success. And if the friendly neighbors had not been enough, the Country Club Land Association would have caused the same result. Cottages (in reality mansions) have during the last year sprung up like mushrooms on the association's property. Among those who have built are E. C. Potter, M. T. Campbell, C. P. Marsh, Howard Gallup, who leased his house to J. Borden Harriman, S. A. Reed, Pierrepont Edwards, who rebuilt the old Ferris house, Heward McAllister and Duncan Marshall.
The races at Morris Park will give members who ordinarily remain in town a good excuse for visiting the club, and during the meetings it is likely that the house will be crowded.
Among the other attractions for this summer are the polo games, which will be played in June, and the afternoon teas, which will be begun shortly. The public coach will materially increase the number of men who will occasionally go up from town, and if any Country Clubman imagines he will be popular as a 'squire of dames' on account of the scarcity of men, he will find himself mistaken.
The present officers of the club are: President, James M. Waterbury; vice president, Colonel De Lancey Kane; treasurer, John S. Ellis, and secretary, Edward Haight. The founders still act as a governing committee, and the chairmen of the various sub-committees are: House and Grounds, F. W. Jackson; Tennis and Boating, George A. Adee; Races, James M. Waterbury; Shooting, C. Oliver Iseline; and Stable and Polo, E. C. Potter.
WHO THE MEMBERS ARE:
The membership list is as follows: Edwin M. Adee, Ernest R. Adee, Frederic W. Adee, George A. Adee, Philip H. Adee, John G. Agar, R. Percy Alden, J. H. Alexandre, F. H. Allen, Philip Allen, Edward Anthon, Charles A. Appleton, Francis A. Appleton, William Waldorf Astor, F. McN. Bacon, Jr., George F. Baker, C. C. Baldwin, E. Baldwin, F. H. Baldwin, David S. Banks, James Barnes, John C. Barron, Theodore Bartow, G. W. Bartholomew, Charles S. Bates, D. K. Bayne, F. O. Beach, W. C. Beach, R. L. Beeckman, L. J. Belloni, Jr., August Belmont, Jr., Perry Belmont, Le Grand L. Benedict, James Gordon Bennett, Henry W. Bibby, R. C. Black, Ernest C. Bliss, Eugene S. Blois, John Bloodgood, Jr., H. A. Borrowe, J. A. Bostwick, Charles S. Boyd, William Lewis Boyle, George S. Bowdoin, Sidney Bradford, Henry M. Braem, James L. Breese, Frederic Bronson, M. W. Bronson, G. B. Brown, H. P. Brown, W. L. Brown, Carroll Bryce, T. C. Buck, O. W. Buckingham, E. H. Buckley, Jr., R. M. Bull, H. H. Burden, H. Burden, 2d, Drayton Burrill, William V. Burrill, McCoskry Butt, Ernest Carter, D. E. Cameron, M. T. Campbell, Clarence Cary, Hamilton W. Carr, R. G. Cary, W. H. Caswell, W. R. Chamberlain, Louis R. M. Chanler, W. V. Chapin, H. H. Chittenden, Percy Chubb, Crawford Clark, A. W. S. Cochrane, M. D. Collier, P. F. Collier, Howard Conklin, James C. Cooley, W. B. Cooper, W. A. Copp, Henry A. Coster, J. Leslie Cotton, R. Flemming Crooks, Philip Cross, S. V. R. Cruger, M. de la Cueva, C. M. Cumming, F. K. Curtis, F. B. Cutting, William Cutting, Jr., J. A. Davenport, J. W. A. Davis, M. V. B. Davis, A. De Bary, G. B. De Forest, P. R. De Florez, F. P. Delafield, Q. L. Delafield, Leon Del Monte, A. De Navarro, John De Ruyter, C. D. Dickey, C. D. Dickey, Jr., Hugh T. Dickey, G. E. Dickinson, A. M. Dodge, C. H. Dodge, N. W. Dodge, Arthur Duane, W. Butler Duncan, Jr., Godfrey Dunscombe, Stanley Dwight, Elisha Dyer, 3d, E. T. Dyer, D. Cady Eaton, Newbold Edgar, J. Pierrepont Dwards, A. V. H. Ellis, John S. Ellis, R. N. Ellis, H. C. Emmet, J. P. Emmet, T. H. Faile, Jr., Floyd Ferris, W. Gordon Fellows, T. P. Field, T. R. Fisher, Stuyvesant Fish, W. B. Fitts, C. R. Flint, Frederic Flower, W. C. Floyd Jones, Girard Foster, Theodore Frelinghuysen, Amos T. French, George B. French, C. F. Frothingham, John C. Furman, J. R. Furman, S. H. Furman, Albert Gallup, Howard Gallup, J. A. Gargulio, M. J. de Garmendia, H. E. Gawtry, J. W. Gerard, Jr., W. C. Gibson, J. L. Gladwin, H. S. Glover, W. E. Glyn, E. L. Godkin, G. De F. Grant, R. Suydam Grant, G. H. Gray, H. Winthrop Gray, W. C. Gulliver, J. W. Smith Hadden, E. Haight, F. A. Haight, G. A. Haines, W. H. Harrison, Jr., J. A. Harriman, J. Borden Harriman, Oliver Harriman, W. M. Harriman, H. P. Hatch, W. D. Hatch, C. F. Havemeyer, F. C. Havemeyer, T. A. Havemeyer, Jr., T. J. Havemeyer, G. G. Haven, Jr., E. M. Hawkes, R. S. Hayes, R. Henderson, W. H. Henriques, P. CooperHewitt, C. C. Higgins, Center Hitchcck, Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., C. B. Hoffman, W. H. Hollister, G. H. Holt, Henry Holt, R. G. Hone, M. Howland, Jr., Colgate Hoyt, Goold Hoyt, E. W Humphreys, Arthur M. Hunter, Frank K. Hunter, Seymour L. Husted, Jr., Lewis M. Iddings, Charles D. Ingersoll, N. G. Ingraham, Richard Irvin, Jr., Adrian Iselin, Adrian Iselin, Jr., C. Oliver Iselin, Columbus O'D. Iselin, Isaac Iselin, W. E. Iselin, William M. Ivins, Lawrence Jacob, Frank W. Jackson, Frederic W. Jackson, William H. Jackson, William Jay, F. M. Jencks, Frederic B. Jennings, Oliver G. Jennings, Walter Jennings, Leonard W. Jerome, Elliott Johnson, Jr. Harry M. Jones, C. F. Judson, Colonel DeLancey Kane, S. Nicholson Kane, Woodbury Kane, Horace R. Kelly, Edward Kemeys, W. B. Kindall, H. Van R. Kennedy, William Kent, Martin J. Keogh, Percy R. King, C. L. Knapp, Benjamin Knower, Adolph Ladenburg, C. Grant La Farge, R. M. Laimbeer, F. G. Landon, Charles Lanier, J. F. D. Lanier, David Lapsley, John Howard Latham, Prescott Lawrence, J. Bowers Lee, Charles H. Leland, Robert W. Leonard, Newbold LeRoy, Edward Livingston, Philip L. Livingston, J. Brown Lord, Jacob Lorillard, Jacob Lorillard, Jr., Larkis L. Lorillard, Pierre Lorillard, Pierre Lorillard, Jr., James B. Ludlow, William T. Lusk, E. T. Lynch, Jr., Gordon MacDonald, DeForest Maurice, S. Duncan Marshall, Bradley Martin, C. P. Marsh, Heyward McAllister, G. F. McCandless, N. L. McCready, George W. McGill, W. Harry McGill, H. G. McVickar, James B. Metcalfe, H. Ray Miller, Philip S. Miller, Abrham Mills, E. D. Morgan, J. Pierpont Morgan, Gouverneur W. Morris, J. A. Morris, A. Hennon Morris, D. Hennon Morris, Richard Mortimer, Jordan L. Mott, Jr., H. W. Monroe, J. Archibald Murray, W. S. Neilson, R. Lanfear Norrie, Oliver N. Northcote, Walter G. Oakman, John R. Ogden, William Butler Ogden, T. L. Onativia, H. Osborn, Henry C. Overing, J. Seaver Page, R. S. Palmer, H. DeB. Parsons, F. Pearson, Charles S. Pelham Clinton, H. Archibald Pell, Dr. G. A. Peters, H. D. Phelps, Lloyd Phoenix, H. W. Poor, Clarence Postley, E. C. Potter, Howard N. Potter, Julian Potter, R. F. Potter, R. M. B. Potter, F. J. Pultz, J. Henry Purdy, W. M. Purdy, Percy R. Pyne, Jr., Moses Taylor Pyne, G. W. Quintard, Edmund Randolph, James Raymond, George R. Reed, Henry S. Redmond, Roland Redmond, Nathaniel Reynal, Albert S. Reed, T. J. Oakley Rhinelander, Sidney D. Ripley, R. W. Rives, S. Howland Robbins, Charles M. Robinson, Fairman Rogers, George L. Ronalds, J. Roosevelt Roosevelt, Archibald D. Russel, Charles H. Russell, Jr., S. Howland Russell, William H. Russell, John A. Rutherfurd, A. H. Sands, C. E. Sands, Harry N. Sands, W. D. Sands, W. C. Sanford, J. F. Schenck, F. A. Schermerhorn, J. E. Schermerhorn, E. S. Schieffelin, Frederic Schuchardt, William Schramm, John S. Screven, W. X. Sellar, Alfred Seton, Jr., F. W. Sharon, N. S. Simpkins, H. T. Sloane, J. C. Smith, J. G. Smith, W. B. Smith, Grenville Snelling, Victor Sorchon, Lorillard Spencer, H. L. Sprague, Henry Stanton, S. H. Sterett, B. K. Stevens, J. S. Smith, Joseph Stickney, H. R. Stokes, W. E. D. Stokes, Marion Story, F. K. Sturgis, A. Van H. Stuyvesant, E. N. Tailer, J. Lee Tailer, Alexander Taylor, Jr., H. A. Taylor, Oliver Summer Teall, P. G. Thebaud, P. L. Thebaud, Roland Thomas, F. S. Thompson, T. W. Thorne, Newberry D. Thorne, W. K. Thorne, Jr., J. Kennedy Tod, Jr., John S. Tooker, Stevenson Towle, H. G. Trevor, R. J. Turnbull, G. E. Turnure, W. McK. Twombly, J. J. Van Alen, P. J. M. Van Cotlandt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, W. K. Vanderbilt, Cortlandt S. Van Rensselaer, J. K. Van Rensselaer, Herman Vogel, J. H. Wainwright, J. T. Wainwright, W. P. Wainwright, Jr., George S. Wallen, R. M. L. Walsh, Raymond L. Ward, James M. Waterbury, Francis A. Watson, R. H. C. Watson, E. H. Weatherbee, John C. Westervelt, Dr. W. Seward Webb, C. W. Wetmore, William C. Whitney, Worthington Whitehouse, William Whitlock, F. W. Whitridge, M. Orme Wilson, R. T. Wilson, Jr., F. L. Winslow, Frederic J. Winston, E. L. Winthrop, Charles R. Wissmann, F. DeR. Wissmann, P. R. Wyckoff, George F. Wyeth, A Murray Young, Fernando Yznaga, John A. Zerega, T. C. Zerega, Lieutenant F. S. Carter, U.S.N.; the Rev. F. M. Clendenin, the Rev. Charles Higbee, Captain John H. Coster, U. S. A.; Captain R. T. Emmet, U. S. A.; and Surgeon H. L. Haskell, U. S. A."
Source: MID WESTCHESTER'S HILLS -- DAY PASTIMES AT THE COUNTRY CLUB -- A DESCRIPTION OF THE HANDSOME HOUSE AND BEAUTIFUL GROUNDS - SKETCH OF THE ORGANIZATION - WHO ITS MEMBERS ARE, New-York Daily Tribune, May 4, 1890, p. 20, cols. 4-6 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
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