History of the Washington Club
The Washington Club was organized in 1903 as an unincorporated association and was incorporated in 1907 under the Laws of the State of Connecticut. Its formal incorporation was effected to enable it to take title to what is now known as the Club Hall, a building which had just been erected. The Club built its original tennis courts shortly thereafter on what is now the site of the Gunnery upper courts. In 1914 the Golf Club was merged with the Washington Club. In 1922 the Washington Club began using the strip of beach at Lake Waramaug, now called Holt Beach.
The Club Hall was designed by Ehrick K. Rossiter and built by Cornelius B. Gold. The cost of construction was met by Mr. Gold, Mr. Rossiter, Dr. William J. Ford, Mr. John C. Brinsmade, and Mr. Edward H. VanIngen, by placing a $7,500 mortgage on the property. This property was deeded to the Washington Club in 1907 with the Club assuming the mortgage. In 1990, the Club Hall underwent a major $300,000 renovation. This included removing the original performance stage used previously by the Dramalites Theater Group. A professional kitchen was installed and restrooms built on the main level. Club Hall is now one of the finest facilities for special events in the Washington area.
Since the first decade of the 20th century, the Washington Club Hall has served as the central and integrating force for the members of the Beach, Golf, and Tennis Sections of the Club. It provides us the location for our Annual Meeting in September and for the season’s Rally Day Pot Luck Dinner in late Spring, as well as the setting for seasonal dances and other Club activities.
In addition to the Club Hall, there was a clubhouse originally on the Washington Green. It was purchased in 1923 from the Estate of Edward H. VanIngen for $9,000. This building, later known as the Hurlburt House, was sold to the Gunnery in 1948. The house is now privately owned and was moved from its original site to Roxbury Road in 1971.
Our 9-hole golf course is located at the end of Golf Course Road, just off Wykeham Road. The early development of the Golf Section was largely influenced by the thoughts and generosity of Mrs. Richard S. Barnes and of Mr. Alfred S. Bourne. In 1962, Paul Bruning purchased and gave to the Clubtwenty-seven acres of land adjacent to the present 4th fairway. In 1963, ten additional acres were purchased by thirty-four Club members and given to expand the golf course. During the middle 1960's, the pond and pumphouse were constructed to provide additional watering for the greens and fairways. In 1984, a new underground watering system was installed on the golf course for $115,000. In 1997, the Clubhouse was completely refurbished for $75,000.
Holt Beach, named in memory of Dr. L. Emmett Holt, would not have been possible without the help of Mrs. Holt who gave $5,000 to the Club toward its original purchase and retirement of the mortgage upon it. The clubhouse and attached boathouse at Holt Beach were built by Mrs. Pierpont E. Dutcher in memory of her husband. In 1972, the Club purchased an adjacent parcel of beach frontage for $9,000. Under the leadership and generosity of W. Prescott Hubbard in the 1970's and with continued volunteer involvement, the Beach has become a fine asset to our Club.
At our tennis facilities, a long relationship has been fostered between the Washington Club and The Gunnery School. These facilities have been shared in one form or another for many years. The Washington Club at one time owned the land from Route 47 to and including the land under most of the present-day upper courts, on which it had its original courts. In the 1920's, residents of the town, Club members, and others interested in the School assisted in the Gunnery's reorganization in which part of the Club's land was transferred to the Gunnery School. As an expression of gratitude, the Gunnery gave the Club a fraternity house which now serves as the Golf Clubhouse. Monies were provided by Mrs. William H. Conroy in 1928 for new clay courts which were leased to the Washington Club. Another generous gift by Mrs. Conroy in 1962 made possible the addition of four hard-surfaced courts. In 1987, a new 15-year lease was signed with The Gunnery, following the Club's $110,000 reconstruction of the lower courts and installation of a permanent deck and pro shop. In 2002, another lease was signed and the Washington Club reconstructed eight courts, a deck and pro shop for $460,000. Under the terms of this new lease, the Club has limited use of the courts during the school year and exclusive use during the summer months.
This plain recital of facts does scant justice to the Washington Club and its progress since it was founded in 1903. The key element in its development and success has been the personal involvement of its members. Many have given generously of their time and effort as volunteers in support of the Club's many activities. Others have acted as benefactors and have given generously to support the Club's expansion and the improvement of its facilities. This strong tradition of personal involvement by its members is what makes the Washington Club a very special and unique institution.