Renaissance Revival: The Racquet and Tennis Club NYC

Renaissance Revival: The Racquet and Tennis Club NYC

1918 Racquest and Tennis Club NYC

Tennis on my mind. The Australian Open begins the tennis season in January in a summer place, while we have snow and ice surrounds here in the Northeast. I’ve been involved with tennis since 1973, so I’ve seen it have those swings, pardon the pun, from hot to cold, and I’m not talking about temperature. Tennis courts so busy, you couldn’t find one to play on, to so many courts and no one interested to play. This has come full circle. Tennis is in again. Play tennis . . . a great exercise and mind challenging game. In 1918, NYC’s Racquet and Tennis club, designed by McKim, Mead and White, very much the palace style of architecture,

Racquet and Tennis club 370 Park Avenue, NYC-

Renaissance Revival. A popular style in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Italian Renaissance Revival

Identifiable Features

  • Low-pitched hipped or flat roof.
  • Symmetrical facade.
  • Masonry construction.
  • Impressive size and scale.
  • Round arch entrance and windows.
  • Classical details: columns, pilasters.
  • Roof line parapet or balustrade.
  • Arcaded and rusticated ground level.

    Details

Surprised me, I have never visited this beautiful club in NYC. After all, I’m a certified USPTA tennis teaching pro, and have played tennis in most states, and in London, and Bangladesh. And I taught History of Architecture at the university level. I wonder how many pros have been there?

On the fourth and fifth floors what is really special about the Racquet Club is on display. On the south end are two court tennis courts, something like indoor tennis courts but with some odd angles and sloping walls. Court tennis involves rebounds off all four walls, changing boundaries, second chances and other arcane rules more like chess than regular tennis.A link from Google Maps for your perusal. The roof is glass: http://bit.ly/2j9Zy0p,

The interior contained three dining rooms, a billiard room, library, lounge, gymnasium, four squash courts, two court tennis (real tennis) courts, and two racquets courts. Today, there are four International squash courts, one North American doubles squash court, one racquets court, and the two court (real) tennis courts.

On July 13, 1983, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The club sold its air rights on Park Avenue to a developer a number of decades ago, resulting in the unusual sight, for New York, of a glass-clad skyscraper rising in the middle of the block, immediately behind the club.

If it interests you to know details, Wikipedia has a handle on them.

Racquet and Tennis Club – Wikipedia

Looks like a fun place. What do you think?

RENAISSANCE CAQUETOIRE

RENAISSANCE CAQUETOIRE

  • If we look at a painting in any particular time frame, you will see the fashions, the furnishings and designs of the interiors. An example is Velazquez “Las Meninas” or “The Family of Philip IV.”
Diego Velazquez “The Family of Philip IV”

How in the world did anyone sit down? Or ride a horse? Or play hide and seek?  But no matter who or what designed these strange fashions, comfort of sorts was provided. After all, it is the Renaissance, a time of rebirth and revitalization of life and living. Stool sitting is an obvious choice for such fashions, but would you believe they actually did have chairs? For example, the caquetoire, a small

Caquetoire 16th century

French conversational chair, also known as a gossip chair, standing on four legs held together with stretchers, designed in the Renaissance in the 16th century. The arms are wide, but not really wide enough for those voluminous farthingale skirts. The shape of the seat is what really distinguishes it. It was designed to be very wide in the front, and narrowed at the back, making a triangular shape. The back was high and panelled, and sometimes was decorated with carving and medallions. This chair has carved rams heads on the ends of the arms.

The chairs were apparently grouped for ladies to sit together and chat or gossip. Indeed the word caquetoire comes from the word caqueter which means to chat. Somehow the translation favors the word gossip over chat. These chairs first appeared in France but then found their way to other European countries.

The chair was designed during the reign of France’s Henry II (1547-1559), who married the Italian Catherine de’Medici, a woman of cruel but forceful character, who completely controlled him and their three sons, each of whom succeeded to the throne.  She was instrumental in giving additional impetus to the Italian arts in France.  She surrounded herself with Italian courtiers, who aided in introducing at the French court the amenities of Florentine social existence.  Catherine died in 1588 after an active life as the central figure of the religious wars.  Tradition ascribes to her the instigation of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s (1572), which occurred during the reign of her son, Charles IX.

Painting by François Dubois, a Huguenot painter born circa 1529 in Amiens, who settled in Switzerland. Although Dubois did not witness the massacre, he depicts Admiral Coligny‘s body hanging out of a window at the rear to the right. To the left rear, Catherine de’ Medici is shown emerging from the Louvre to inspect a heap of bodies.

Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Does Catherine de’Medici of the 16th century remind you of anyone you know today?  What happened to women by the 20th century? Why did we need the wakeup call by Gloria Steinem?

 

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