Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 2, 2013

Country club celebrates a century at home

Country club celebrates a century at home

BY JOHN J. HOPKINS
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If good things come in threes, then the Lockport Town and Country Club, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its opening on its present grounds on East Avenue is all set.

Although the club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2002, the club can actually trace its roots back to a Hamm Road log cabin in 1896. So, a planned celebration in September to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the building’s opening in 1913 will complete a trifecta.

General Manager Rowland O’Malley said details for the Sept. 21 celebration are still being finalized, but hinted that it will be a “gala day,” that will include antique cars, period photos, music and dancing — which were popular at the club 100 years ago — and a nine-hole golf event in which participants will use old golf clubs. The course may even be laid out as it was in 1913.

Club historian Clint Starke noted the golf course consisted of only nine holes until 1992 when the club expanded the course on the east side of Cold Spring Road. However, in the 1940s, the course added a second set of nine tees to give the impression of 18 holes; golfers walked the gorunds twice but hit from the other set on their second cycle through.

“It’s never been an easy-playing course,” Starke said, adding the land was “all vineyards” when construction began.

Sports have always played a major theme at the LTCC. Back in the log cabin days on Hamm Road, tennis court and croquet grounds were featured, along with baseball games at what was called the Lockport Country Club. The club in 1902 moved to the Horace Flagler house at 472 Locust St., where it was christened the Town and Country Club. Ball games, tennis, golf, archery and even ping-pong tournaments were hosted there. Skating took place in winter.

In 1912, the club announced its plans to build in Chestnut Ridge Heights, on what was known then as the Van Shuler property. It was hoped the new site would open before the end of the year but construction took longer than anticipated.

The grand opening was held on Jan. 30, 1913 and the Town and Country Club became the place to be seen in Lockport.

Local companies used the club to host Christmas parties for their employees. Large weddings and elegant balls were held. Of course, the golf course, two tennis courts, a croquet field and ball field were important features.

When the club opened, it was reported that “there’s not a level foot of land on the grounds” of the 32-acre site. Starke said that was part of the site’s attraction.

“It was very hilly; the bottom of the valley and the top of the hills were all rounded,” Starke said, noting that the landscape was different in other ways as well. “You could see the lake from (the clubhouse). That’s why Lakeview Parkway has its name.”

A swimming pool was installed in 1956, and the Union-Sun & Journal reported that 175 members used the pool that first day, Aug. 6, 1956.

Membership has remained fairly consistent over the years. O’Malley said there were 200 members when the present-day club opened in 1913. Today, as times have changed, there are 282 members across several categories such as legacy, family, club, golf and recreational memberships.

“Social memberships were added in the early 1970s for wives as their husbands began to pass away,” said O’Malley. “Anyone who was left behind continued to pay full dues.”

After 100 years, the LTCC remains a favored location for wedding receptions and other events and continues to play a major role in the community, hosting fundraising events and making other contributions.