Hackensack, NJ Community Message Boards

General Category => Hackensack History => Topic started by: BLeafe on August 01, 2011, 12:58:47 am

Title: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: BLeafe on August 01, 2011, 12:58:47 am


The Record

The 124-year-old Oritani Field Club in Hackensack, one of Bergen County's oldest sports clubs, has been sold and will shut its doors at the end of 2015, the club's president said Thursday.

The East Camden Street tennis club has signed a contract for the sale, but the deal will not actually close until 2015, said Theodore Agen of Fort Lee, president of the club's board. It is to continue operating until then, he said.

(http://img819.imageshack.us/img819/6664/oritanifc1.jpg) (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/819/oritanifc1.jpg/)

Agen declined to disclose the sale price or the buyer's name. He said he believes the buyer plans to redevelop the 2.3-acre site, possibly as part of a larger redevelopment plan. The City Council just last month designated the Main Street neighborhood as an area in need of rehabilitation, opening the way for infrastructure repairs and mixed residential/office/retail development.

Agen said the club's members decided to sell because the |club has been running at an annual deficit of about $30,000 on a budget of about $250,000 for several years. He said the purchaser made a down payment on the property that will help the club operate through 2015.

(http://img585.imageshack.us/img585/6640/oritanifc2.jpg) (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/585/oritanifc2.jpg/)

The average age of the club's 140 members is over 65, he said. Ideally, the club should have about 200 members to support the number of tennis courts it has, he said.

"Membership has been dwindling," said Agen, a retired software entrepreneur. "In five years, we'd probably be in an untenable position in terms of having enough people to play."

The club, which also has a pool, is assessed at $1.6 million, down from $2.3 million last year.

The Oritani club was founded in 1887 by two local groups, the Pastime Lawn Tennis Club and the Hackensack Lawn Tennis Club. It was named for Oratam, the local Indian chief of the 17th century, and was originally located where the Hackensack YMCA now stands, on 10 acres that stretched from Main Street to the Hackensack River.

The club included a baseball field, boathouse and the first bowling lanes installed in Bergen County, though it now is primarily a tennis club.

The club moved a few blocks south to its current site, on East Camden Street, in 1925, constructing a red-brick Colonial Revival building for its members.

Agen, 68, who has been a member for two decades, said he has mixed emotions about the sale.

"It was inevitable," he said. "It was going to happen sooner or later. We were able to do it on our timetable."

Hackensack City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said he did not know who the buyer is. He said he hoped any redevelopment would "be complementary to what we're trying to do on Main Street, and our efforts to make Main Street a vibrant downtown area."

Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado contributed to this article. E-mail: lynn@northjersey.com


pjmccabe says:
The Oritani was a big part of my young days in the 50s and 60s. My parents were members and some of us kids (6) would take the 165 bus (twenty-five cents) down to Hackensack and swim and play tennis for the day. Weekends were a family affair and we all went there until we were old enough for summer jobs. LITTLE KNOW FACT: Some of the great jazz musicians would play at the Oritani at Sunday afternoon "tea dances", not much tea, but incredible music from guys that were fixtures in the City. I have all the recordings from those events and they are musical history. #2 - Oritani was the first private club to invite Arthur Ashe to play in a tournament. The Easter Clay Court Championships were played there every year. Arthur first came as a 17 year from Richmond. Then a few years later won the whole thing. They should hold a reunion of past members before shutting the doors.

Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on August 23, 2011, 08:50:41 am
Hackensack's Oritani Field Club to close, but memories remain (http://www.northjersey.com/recreation/128179603_Oritani_Field_Club_to_close__but_memories_remain.html)
Monday, August 22, 2011
Hackensack Chronicle

Sitting on a high-fenced parcel of land adjoining River Street in Hackensack, the Oritani Field Club might be a mystery to non-members of the 124-year-old sports facility, as well as to casual passersby.

But for long-time member Teri Cerullo of Englewood, the impending closing of the club revealed something those who played tennis and swam in the pool behind its walls already knew.

"This place in the best-kept secret in Hackensack," said Cerullo. "This place has a special charm to it - it's different. Even though we have the noise, the fire engines, the police cars, we don't hear anything once we're here. We didn't want it to close. We're going to be saddened by it."

The tennis and swimming club, with its front door facing East Camden Street, was sold and will officially close at the end of 2015, according to Theodore Agen of Fort Lee, the president of the club's board. While Agen has not divulged the buyer's identity or the sale price, he believes that the purchaser will most likely redevelop the 2.3-acre site.

A redevelopment plan for the 140-member sports club would fit into the city's overall plans for the downtown. In June, the City Council designated the area as in need of rehabilitation, a move designed to facilitate residential, retail and office development, as well as infrastructure improvements.

Club officials and residents alike gave similar reasons for the club's closure: a declining and aging membership, reduced revenue and real estate realities. The club was recently assessed at $1.6 million, significantly less than the $2.3 million of last year.

Events in the club's history are touchstones in Hackensack's history - its founding in 1887; its naming after Oratam, the famed 17th century American-Indian chief; its move in the 1920s from the original site, where the Hackensack YMCA now sits, on land that stretched from Main Street to the Hackensack River; the fact that Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Arthur Ashe played on the tennis courts; that Johnny Weissmuller, Olympic champion and a cinematic Tarzan, graced the pool.

The membership itself voted to approve the board's decision to close the club. But Elisabeth Ries, the first female president of the club, noted that in the end, memories matter more than money as she placed a higher value on remembered elegance rather than on fading finances.

"I remember a black tie Governor's ball right here," said Ries, a 40-year club member, walking through the club's ballroom on an impromptu tour. "This dance floor was full, and we had a good time. I come here all the way from Suffern, New York, and I'm still coming."

"This was a very formal country club in the middle of Hackensack," said Jackie Muhlstock, of Teaneck, a member since 1968. "If you were in the bar after 6 o'clock, they rang a bell, and you couldn't stay in your tennis clothes."

"It was also very family-oriented. There were lots and lots of kids," added Muhlstock. "The lifeguards used to have to blow the whistle for an adult swim. My kids used to spot pins in the old bowling alley. My three sons grew up here, and I grew up here. You have no idea how much this is breaking my heart."

Business decisions often don't, or can't, account for sentiment. But for Teri Cerullo, the club will always have a piece of her heart.

"We don't have the million-dollar look that the other, more-expensive clubs have," Cerullo said. "But we have the people. This may not appeal to everybody, but it appeals to us. We made this place a home away from home."

Email: bonamo@northjersey.com
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on August 04, 2014, 02:11:22 pm
Hackensack's Oritani Field Club winding down
August 4, 2014    Last updated: Monday, August 4, 2014, 1:21 AM
The Record

Will Persson of Leonia warming up last week for the Bergen County clay court championships at the Oritani Field Club in Hackensack.
The best tennis players in Bergen County meet on a stretch of clay courts in the middle of Hackensack every year. But this year's tournament was the second to last, before the Oritani Field Club closes by the end of 2015.

The member-owned club, which opened in 1887, was sold four years ago on the conditions that the closing date was set five years in the future and that the club was given money up front to continue operating until then.

Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: BLeafe on August 04, 2014, 04:27:23 pm
I wonder if the writer is related to John Hinchliffe, the former Paterson mayor for whom another "grand old lady winding down" - Paterson's Hinchliffe Stadium - is named.

That "old lady's" fortunes are currently looking a lot better than our old lady's.

Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on October 31, 2015, 09:06:53 am
Title: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club has begun
Post by: BLeafe on April 19, 2017, 05:15:35 pm
I got an email today from member Skipx219 telling me that this was happening, so I took a stroll over there.

The tennis courts are being dug up and parts of the back of the main building and parts of another behind it are down. I shot what I could from 3 sides.

In the parking lot to the club's immediate west are signs saying that the building's demolition will take place this Saturday.

Thanks again for the tip, Gene!


Title: Re: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club has begun
Post by: BLeafe on April 21, 2017, 02:53:09 pm
0. I saw this crane early this morning in the OFC vicinity and was hoping it was there for some other purpose. It was. I found it in the Eastwick College parking lot.

1, 2. I parked near Giant Farmers Market and walked over to where I stopped shooting in the previous post. The fence and the "Entrance - Members Only" sign were already gone. I spoke with some workers about when on Saturday the front of the FC would be torn down. "Saturday? That won't happen until next week". They didn't mind that I wanted to take a couple of pictures, so I started with this 2-picture photostitch and then a closeup.

3. I took this one from Farmers. I wonder how long that sign will last.

4,5. I walked around toward the front on Camden St and saw this..............thing. Is this a Zamboni for clay courts?

6, This doorbell gets rung for the last time next week.

7,8. I'm guessing this is where Comfort Coal made their deliveries.

9. This "OFC" is part of the balcony above the front door (see previous post). I hope this gets preserved somehow. There's too much history there to lose it.


Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: ericmartindale on April 23, 2017, 06:31:37 pm
disgusting loss of history and a community facility.
Title: Re: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club has begun
Post by: BLeafe on April 23, 2017, 08:30:05 pm
Here's what it looks like since Friday. The main building and the pool appear to be the only intact parts of the OFC left.

1. The view from E. Berry St (and Giant Farmers Market)

2. A 4-image photostitch............lots of scrolling to the right

3.On the left is the Hekemian notice posted on a wall between OFC and a parking lot for Main St stores. On the right, the wall is flat on its back.

4. I'd be doubly cautious.

5. This is all I could see of the pool.

6. The view from E. Camden St, near River St.

7. Growing through the chain-link fence

8. One of the lights on the River St side

9. The view from E. Berry by River St


Title: Re: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club has begun
Post by: BLeafe on April 24, 2017, 05:45:58 pm
I drove by today to make sure the they hadn't started on the front of the building yet and took a few shots.

1-4. King of  the Hill and close to the edge. They weren't picking up stuff and dumping it - they just seemed to be doing a lot on tamping down.

5. I wanted to get another shot of the front balcony (with its "OFC"). I'd like to see if anyone has an interest in preserving it. For all I know, it might be already spoken for, but if anyone has a good idea, let me know. After I took the first shot, I went around back to get some more pix of the pile. When I returned to the front, I saw little pieces of........something.....falling from a window. It turns out that someone was upstairs scraping away by that window. Suddenly, the balcony doors opened (second pic) and then I saw the worker (pic #3). I asked him for his best guess as to when the front might come down.

"Maybe toward the end of the week?"

It just as well, as it's supposed to rain for the next 2 days.

6. In looking at a shot I took yesterday, I saw something familiar - a brick that said "HB CO" (circled) - Hackensack Brick Company, which I wrote about last year (http://www.hackensacknow.org/index.php/topic,3280.msg10960.html?PHPSESSID=608f84be1baba67948bc52bdf223118f#msg10960).


Title: Re: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club has begun
Post by: BLeafe on April 28, 2017, 03:00:35 pm
From my apartment, I could see that the small part of the rear of the building that I could see looked different: I could see see daylight through a white wall, which I knew was the front wall. Uh-oh............was that coming down?

It wasn't, but you can see that daylight in the first picture behind those second-floor French doors.

In the third shot, it looks like the entire metal structure is collapsing. The fourth shows a River St view of the clay courts and two openings in the building (and closeups of those openings in the next two pictures). On the far left is the corner of the library and its roof that I shot from two days later.

The last pic shows the blocked sidewalk - a sure sign the the front would be coming down soon.


Title: Re: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club is almost complete
Post by: BLeafe on April 28, 2017, 04:15:46 pm
As soon as I looked out my living room window yesterday and saw that the tiny bit of the OFC that I could normally see was not there, I knew it was time to drop everything and get right over there. Sure enough, some of the top parts of the front were already gone. E. Camden St was blocked off by the police and the on-site workers were shooing everyone away from the building.

Fortunately, I had made arrangements a few days earlier to shoot from the roof of the Johnson Public Library (thank you, Sharon!) and after I took the first shot from the street, I went right up there.

I brought two cameras and one tripod. The latter was for video, so I wouldn't have to get YouTube popups that told me my video was shaky and would I like them to fix it. When I thought something involving motion was about to happen, I just hit the button and let it run. I took 23 videos, ranging from about 5 seconds to 2-3 minutes each. The video I came up will will be in a following post.

Since this was a demolition, many of the shots are just destruction. I'm not proud to have documented the death of a revered building, but a big part of my photographic career has been about capturing candid motion, so in that sense, shooting rock concerts and demolitions are not that different from each other (I wonder who's going to be the clown who says they sound the same). Anyway, I enjoy the challenge.

I had been told that when they started on the front, the columns would be the first to go. I really wanted to shoot that, but I was too late. Hey - I'm lucky I saw what I did out my window or else I would have been even later. Anyway, the fourth picture shows the columns laying across the front area.

There are a couple of double images that show consecutive actions that belong together. The one I really like shows images #9026 and 9027, where a corner section on the second floor was knocked down and smashed into/knocked over a wooden fence. You can see the result of that in 9029.

When I first arrived on the scene, I asked a worker who was keeping the street clear and who also was in communication with the demolition guys to ask them to try to keep the balcony intact, if possible, rather than just rip it down, because part of the wrought-iron piece consists of the "OFC" initials, making it historically interesting. If you look at the 3 pictures after 9029, it appears that they did just that - especially in the third pic. They cleared the sides before they pulled it down. I was told early today that the piece was retrieved and put aside. It must be determined if it is already spoken for, before anyone else can ask for it.

After that, steel girders were cleared away, dust was hosed down and they stopped for the day . Most of the front of the first floor was still up, but since they were to resume work at 7am today (sorry - I can't be anywhere at that hour), I knew that these would be my last shots of the semi-intact front.

I made a final, 3-photo stitch of that front, but the file is too big to include in this post, so it will follow.


Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Homer Jones on April 28, 2017, 06:06:50 pm
You can bet that this project will be under construction real fast.
Title: Demolition of the Oritani Field Club is complete
Post by: BLeafe on April 28, 2017, 09:31:52 pm
The first pic is the 3-pic photostitch I shot yesterday as the last image of what was still standing of the OFC. You may need to scroll a bit.

What was standing yesterday was taken down early this morning and by the time I got there, this is what it looked like (second pic).

There wasn't much else to shoot except for the front steps, a rubble closeup and the last rites anointing with holy water (the truck couldn't get clearance for chrism [holy oil]).

The last image can be found in much better shape in my April 19 post. This one has more of a fitting finality to it.


Title: The 4-27-17 demolition of the Oritani Field Club video
Post by: BLeafe on April 28, 2017, 09:40:30 pm
This is bits and pieces of multiple small videos shot from the roof of the Johnson Public Library yesterday and sewn together by QuickTime without a lot of rhyme or reason.

Please use the option to view on YouTube.


Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on April 29, 2017, 12:27:10 am
I am sad to the OFC go.

Bob, thanks for documenting, risking life and limb on the library roof.

Those backhoes/wreckers are pretty damn impressive. :o
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: johnny g on May 01, 2017, 08:25:50 am
Am I the only one here who never set foot in the OFC?
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on May 01, 2017, 09:16:38 am
I was only there during the bitter end.  I saw the last person swimming in the Olympic pool, a dusty baby grand piano in a worn-out dance hall and a dimly lit abandoned bowling alley in the basement. While empty, it felt a little like "The Shining" or "There Will Be Blood" (bowling alley scene). In better times, maybe "The Great Gatsby" or "Dirty Dancing".

The Hackensack Fire Department managed to save this for posterity. (Thanks Chris).   

I was thinking we could hang it in the M&M Building once renovated.  Any other suggestions?


Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: BLeafe on May 01, 2017, 12:10:00 pm
Am I the only one here who never set foot in the OFC?

I never did either.

I wish I had the opportunity to document the interior at the bitter end.
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on May 01, 2017, 12:30:15 pm
I may have some more pictures.  I'll look.
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Skipx219 on May 01, 2017, 02:06:40 pm
When I was 15 years old...I set bowling Pins in that basement ally.
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: irons35 on May 01, 2017, 08:46:58 pm
i forgot to try and salvage the bowling alleys...
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on May 01, 2017, 09:48:55 pm
I think I was there in August of 2015.  I went to have an Alliance board member sign some checks.  He was an OFC member and enjoying what was likely his last swim in the Club's large outdoor swimming pool. He worked locally and went for a swim every morning.  (I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures of the pool.) We lamented the Club's closing, the end of an era, etc. He told me to take a look around inside but to hurry because they were about to close up.  So, these are really just quick snapshots.  I had hoped I'd have another opportunity to better document the place but this will have to do.  You'll see some places where water got in.  The real dilapidation was upstairs which, I'm told, had been closed for decades. 

The old stone home out back was used as a shed for lawn equipment. Also known as an "outkitchen", it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I had reached out to a number of public and private organizations to try to relocate it, to no avail. Will try to post more on that later. 

The "Yearly High Average" sign was in the bowling alley.

(I see now that the piano I mentioned above was an upright, not a baby grand). 
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on May 27, 2017, 11:16:41 pm
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: Editor on May 28, 2017, 02:41:32 pm
Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: BLeafe on May 28, 2017, 10:12:46 pm
These articles make it sound like the building that just got demolished is the original building from 1887.

There's no mention that the original building was located where the YMCA is now and the property went down to the river. The recently-deceased building came about almost 40 years later.

Title: Re: Oritani Field Club sold - closes in 2015
Post by: BLeafe on May 29, 2017, 01:30:02 pm
I found this headline in today's Record. I took the pictures yesterday.

See any apartments?

Click to enlarge.