Racquet and Tennis Club

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Racquet and Tennis Club Building
Racquet and Tennis Club 370 Park Avenue.jpg
(2012)
Racquet and Tennis Club is located in New York City
Racquet and Tennis Club
Racquet and Tennis Club is located in New York
Racquet and Tennis Club
Racquet and Tennis Club is located in the United States
Racquet and Tennis Club
Location370 Park Ave.
New York, New York
CoordinatesCoordinates: 40°45′31″N 73°58′25″W / 40.75861°N 73.97361°W / 40.75861; -73.97361
Built1916
ArchitectWilliam S. Richardson of McKim, Mead and White
Architectural styleItalian Renaissance
NRHP reference #83001741[1]
Added to NRHPJuly 13, 1983

The Racquet and Tennis Club , familiarly known as the R&T, is a private social and athletic club located at 370 Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets, New York, New York.

History[edit]

The Racquet Court Club opened in 1876 at 55 West 26th Street and though it had two racquets courts, an indoor running track and two bowling alleys, it did not originally have a tennis court. It is only in 1890, with the plan for a tennis court in mind, that the organization formally changed its name to the Racquet and Tennis Club, moving the following year to a second, much larger club house at 27 West 43rd Street (1891). [2] This next iteration had two racquet courts, one "fives" court and one real court tennis court. The club moved to its current Park Avenue home in 1918.

Building[edit]

The R&T's current clubhouse was designed by William Symmes Richardson, a partner at McKim, Mead, and White. The facility was built on a parcel offered for lease by a member of the club, Robert Goelet. Richardson, who had primary design responsibility for Pennsylvania Station and the Hotel Pennsylvania, proposed an integrated Italian Renaissance style and his firm's proposal was presented to the membership for approval in April 1916. [3][4] In addition to offering its members more spacious amenities, the move to Park Avenue afforded a more desirable and centralized location. Construction began on December 20, 1916 and was completed on September 7, 1918. The builder was Mark Edlitz, and the estimated cost was $500,000. Board of Directors at this time included financier Ogden Mills and sportsman Harry Payne Whitney.

The resulting building is about 200 feet by 100 feet (30 m x 60 m) and five stories tall. The exterior is stone and brick over a structural steel frame. According to the original plans, the interior contained three dining rooms, a billiard room, library, lounge, gymnasium, four squash courts, two court tennis (real tennis) courts, and two racquets courts. Today, there are four international squash courts, one North American doubles squash court, one racquets court, and the two court (real) tennis courts.

The structure is representative of the ornate private clubs constructed in New York during the early twentieth century. McKim, Mead and White had previously designed the Harvard Club of New York, the Century Association and the University Club of New York. Today, it performs an important architectural role on Park Avenue as a foil to the Seagram Building and the Lever House and other corporate structures in the glass-clad vocabulary of International Modernism.

The building was designated a NYC Landmark in 1979 and on July 21, 1983, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]

According to architectural historian and journalist Christopher Gray, the club sold its air rights on Park Avenue to a developer a number of decades ago, resulting in the unusual sight, for New York, of a glass-clad skyscraper rising in the middle of the block, immediately behind the club. [6]

Squash[edit]

Members of the R&T are active in Squash doubles league and alternate between hosting the prestigious $50,000 Kellner Cup and a Squash Doubles Association Pro Tour Challenger Event each year. White athletic attire is required.

Famous People[edit]

Club professionals have been world champions in both racquets, squash and real tennis. The most famous was Pierre Etchebaster, Real Tennis World Champion (1928–1956). Neil Smith was World Racquets Singles Champion (1999–2001), and World Doubles Champion (1992–2001). Tim Chisholm, R&T Racquets Director from 1999 to 2004 won the Real Tennis Doubles World Championship in 2001 (partnered by Julian Snow). [7]

James Stout has been the Racquets World Champion since 2008 - he has been a teaching professional at R&T since 2006.Manek Mathur is currently the Head Squash Professional at R&T and has been ranked as high as #1 in doubles in the world.

Backgammon[edit]

The Racquet and Tennis Club played an important role in the history of backgammon: In 1931 Wheaton Vaughan, who was chairman of the club's Card and Backgammon Committee then, invited representatives of other clubs in New York and elsewhere to formulate the Laws of Backgammon. This set of rules [8] is the basis of the rules according to which backgammon is played around the world today.

Controversy[edit]

Like several other single gender Manhattan clubs including the Colony Club (women-only), the Cosmopolitan Club (women-only), the Holland Society (men-only), and the Knickerbocker (men-only), the Racquet and Tennis has held fast to its men-only membership policy. Women are welcome at R&T social events only. [9]

In 1987, the club famously refused to allow Evelyn David, a New York City resident, a special exemption to train for the Women's World Real Tennis Championship citing its men-only rules. At the time, David was considered by several leading members of the club to be one of the top six or seven female court tennis players in the United States and the R&T had the only real court tennis courts in Manhattan, the next closest facility being in Tuxedo, New York. [10]

An active member of the United States Court Tennis Association, David attended a dinner at the R & T hosted by the USCTA in 2011; the occasion was the honoring of her friend and frequent winning doubles partner, Penny Fellows Lumley who was inducted into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame. [11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "Lost Courts of America". US Court Tennis Association. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  3. ^ "Racquet Club May Have New Home". The Evening Post. April 20, 1916.
  4. ^ "Handsome New Home of the Racquet and Tennis Club". The Evening Post. July 15, 1916.
  5. ^ Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (3/2/1934 - ) (2013–2017). New York SP Racquet and Tennis Club Building. File Unit: National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records: New York, 1964 - 2013.
  6. ^ Christopher Gray. "The Racquet & Tennis Club; A Park Avenue Anomaly Dedicated to Arcane Sports". New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  7. ^ "Chase the First". United States Court Tennis Association. July 1, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "1931 Rules". Backgammon Galore. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "The 1918 Park Avenue Racquet and Tennis Club". The Daytonian in Manhattan. August 10, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Newton, James S. (1987-03-28). "Bastion of Court Tennis Keeps Woman on Sideline". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  11. ^ "Report on USCTA Awards". Ladies Real Tennis Association. Retrieved January 5, 2020.

Sources

External links[edit]