The Pelham Club House
of the Split Rock and Pelham Bay public Golf
Courses, Bronx NY, built by the New York City Parks Department using federal
funding and labor, 1934-1936.
Architects: John Matthews Hatton and Aymar Embury II.
By the late 20th Century, the building had fallen
into an advanced state of disrepair and was restored about 2006 under the
direction of architect Page Ayres
14 May 2017.
The NYC Department of Parks opened the first municipal golf course in the
USA — Van Cortlandt Golf
Course in the Bronx — in 1895[1,4]. Unlike all other golf courses
at the time, it was open to the public. The concept was so successful it
was followed in 1901 by Pell (later Pelham Bay) Golf Course in the Bronx and
Forest Park in Queens, also both public. Then, as the Parks Department
Under the tenure of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1934-60), New York
City's recreational facilities saw great changes. With federal funding
provided by the Works Progress Administration, Moses created a variety
of new public facilities and expanded others throughout the city. Between
1935 and 1940, Parks redesigned the entire course and built new club
facilities. The Kissena Golf Course opened in 1935. The course in Pelham Bay
was renovated in 1936 as part of a WPA-funded project, and the adjacent
Split Rock course was opened then. … The stately Pelham Club House
(pictured above) also opened during this era.
|Golf House construction 1936
||Finished Golf House mid-late 1930s
A 1935 New York Times article notes:
When Parks Commissioner Robert Moses took office he quickly decided that the
down-at-the-heels system [of poorly maintained public golf courses] with be
a “natural” for work relief. On golf-course construction
a minimum of materials and equipment is required, with the result that an
unusually large proportion of the funds allocated goes directly to labor.
John R. Van Kleek, a golf-course
architect, was retained to supervise the work, which got under way in
Since then approximately $3,5000,000 has been expended — $2,800,000 of
it for an average of 3,800 laborers a week. The rest has gone for equipment
and materials, including such items as 200 tons of fertilizer and 10,000
tons of manure. Seed purchases (thirty-five tons) completely stripped
A Parks Department press release of September 30, 1934, notes:
A Golf Club House has been designed by the Architectural
Division of the Department of Parks and is a contemporary interpretation of
the Greek Revival. The entire exterior is of whitewashed brick with white
columns and lintels, The cornices throughout are of wood painted white
surmounted with cast iron railings. Green shutters and a base course of
bluestone give a striking contrast to the white general scheme, while two
bands of bluestone appear on the top of the gray chimneys. The terrace before
the portico will be provided with gaily colored tables, chairs and settees. A
broad flight of stone steps leads from the terrace to the great lawn. The
retaining wall of the terrace is rubble stone with a low parapet wall on which
people can lounge while waiting to tee off.
The circular lobby is about twenty-five feet in diameter,
wainscotted with Virginia Serpentine Marble, with white stucco walls and
contrasting bluestone trim. Here is located the control desk in charge of an
attendant, where players may present their credentials, register and receive
an assignment. The lobby also gives access to the golf store, the Pro's Shop,
and the cafeteria which is served by a modern kitchen.
The locker rooms in connecting wings, with access from the end
of the club room, are provided with wash rooms and showers. There is also a
ladies' rest room between the locker room and the club room.
Along the entire length of the club room, as it faces the golf
course, is a two-story portico fourteen feet wide and carried by six large
A part of the second story contains office space. The basement
is devoted to one of the locker rooms for men and to mechanical equipment,
including an oil burner heating plant.
Excavation work for the club house is now under way. All
labor and materials for the whole project will be paid for from Work Relief
The club house was designated an individual New York City landmark in 1968
and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
- The History
of Golf Courses in Parks, New York City Department of Parks &
Recreation website (accessed 19 May 2017).
- NYC Parks Department Press
Release of September 30, 1934. “Seeding has been started by the
Department of Parks of the remodeled Pelham Bay Golf Course to permit the
building of an additional 18-hole course. The club house will be located at
the corner of Shore Road and Split Rock Road to serve both courses.”
(The additional course is the Split Rock Golf Course).
- Friends of Pelham Bay
Park website, Architecture: “Pelham Bay-Split Rock Golf Course
Clubhouse. Built in 1936 under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Architect:
John Matthews Hatton.” Hatton also worked on other prominent NYC New
Deal projects, including Astoria Pool and Play
Center in Queens, and Betsy Head Pool and Play
Center in Brooklyn.
- Britton, A.D.,
Mental Hazard out of City Golf, New York Times Magazine, June
2, 1935, p.11.
- Owen, David, The
Muny Life: Hidden Art Treasures of New York City Golf, March 2, 2013.
Photos from the NYC Parks Department archive.
- Owen, David, “Playing
Out of the Snow”, The New Yorker, March 28, 2005, pp.26-32.
Tells the story (among others) of how the Club House was restored after it
was nearly gutted in a 2001 fire.
- Brechin, Gray, Playing
Through: Recreation and the New Deal,
Living New Deal News, June 26, 2017.
- NYC Golf Club
Houses, Page Ayres Cowley Architecture, LLC: Conditions Assessment,
Rehabilitation & Adaptive Re-Use —
Pelham / Split Rock Golf
2 November 2019: "PACA, retained as Architect of Record, prepared a
conditions assessment and feasibility study for the enlargement and
comprehensive upgrade of the clubhouse, designed in 1936 by Aymar
Embury II". PACA is the firm that renovated the building in 2009.
Also the Parks Department names Embury as the (or a) Split Rock
on this page.
Thanks to Gray Brechin and Richard Walker of The Living New Deal
at the University
of California at Berkeley for facilitating this photo excursion.