The Amackassin Club
In Yonkers in the 1880s, the only place you could play the young sport of lawn tennis was, not surprisingly, on someone's lawn. Private property owners would build their own court and invite others to play on it. In 1887 the owners of a piece of land on North Broadway (later the site of Commerce High School and today the site of Yonkers' Palisade Preparatory School) agreed to fill in the foundation of the former Peabody House hotel, which had burned down, and build Yonkers' first clay tennis court. The court became a popular place for young people to play tennis and socialize.
In June 1888, twenty nine of those people voted to form the Yonkers Lawn Tennis Club and agreed to contribute two dollars a year toward the upkeep of the court. The founding members included names that are familiar to us today in other contexts --Waring, Hawley, Otis, Trevor. A treasurer, a secretary and three directors comprised the original board. The tennis court's first landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Roswell Roberts and Mr. John Olmsted were given honorary memberships.
The new board authorized no more than five dollars to build a box to hold the supplies they needed for their tennis and social activities. Each member was given a key. The first club tournament was held that September.
Membership grew rapidly and three years later, in June 1891, the club legally incorporated. It also moved to a leased site on the northeast corner of Palisade and Glenwood Avenues. Three courts were laid out (with a fourth added later) and a hose from a nearby member's house provided water. In 1892 dues were raised to five dollars a year, but that price included tennis balls.
The membership wanted something more permanent than the leased site and the storage box. A committee recommended that the club purchase an acre and a half on Palisade Avenue from John H. Lewis for $8,000. The committee also recommended that a clubhouse be immediately be erected. In March 1893, the sixty or so members at the meeting adopted the committee's report, although some thought the location too remote.
The clubhouse (seen above) was designed by architect G. Howard Chamberlain (who also designed Philipsburgh Hall on Hudson Street) and was completed with amazing speed. On New Year's Day 1894 the new clubhouse hosted a grand opening party that was noted in the New York Times.