Racquet and Tennis Club


This building was actually designed by WS Richardson since by 1917 Charles McKim and Stanford White had died and William Mead had retired. Twice as high as Park Avenue was wide and adorned by a frieze of racquets, this was one of New York`s great gilded age clubhouses. Naturally, the Club only admitted gentlemen of a certain social pedigree who smoked cigars, swum naked in its pool, and snoozed in the oversize furniture in the baronial fourth floor after a challenging game of racquets or court tennis. It still has the distinction of never admitting women. According to the NY Times, “in the late 1970s the club was the scene of another contest, perhaps the biggest game of real estate ''chicken'' ever played in New York. The Fisher Brothers acquired the midblock site behind the Racquet Club for a new office building, Park Avenue Plaza. The developers approached the club about a possible entrance through its building, but no deal was consummated. “The Racquet Club retaliated by planning to construct a 38 story hotel over its building effectively blocking the views from the office building. It ended when the air rights were sold for $5 million to the Fisher Brothers.

Constructed, 1918


Jan 1, 1922- In 1922 Rene LaMontagne, polo player and club member, was arrested as a major figure in a bootlegging ring after reports about a Racquet Club bachelor party reached Prohibition authorities. LaMontagne was charged with selling "16,000 gallons of rye, 316 cases of Scotch, 500 cases of gin, 9,000 gallons of wine and other spirits". LaMontagne was sentenced to four years in prison, presaging a general Prohibition crackdown on elite organizations previously thought to be invulnerable. In January, 1923 the club's 60-foot-long bar, called ''Old Mahogany'' (it had been moved from the old clubhouse) was removed and orange juice became the drink of choice -- or so The New York Herald reported.
Mar 28, 1987-New York Times reports on the saga of Evelyn David's attempt to practice Court Tennis at the Racquet Club which refused to allow world-class court tennis player Evelyn David who lived close by to train there for the Women’s World Tennis Championship despite the fact that the next nearest regulation courts were 90 minutes away in Tuxedo, NY. Unlike lawn tennis, court tennis was more a game of strategy with sloping walls and shifting court sizes.

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