The Beginnings


Westerleigh Tennis Club

The club's beginnings are rooted in the area we now know as Westerleigh. More specifically, Westerleigh was born from the Temperance movement and the land acquired which became National Prohibition Park. Fifteen acres of land originally owned by John Vanderbilt, were sold by his daughter, Sarah to Christopher S. Williams and William H. Boole. Williams and Boole donated the property to The National Prohibition Party, a Temperance movement party that transformed the land into a summer retreat.

In the early years, circa 1887, a "camp ground" was promoted as a place for families to come, rent a tent, escape the hectic industrial world and enjoy the bucolic, pastoral grounds with lectures and entertainment.

By the 1890's the park association acquired up to 170 acres and switched its focus to a residential land development by the Temperance Movement as a place to live a Christian private family life with education and self-improvement. As the residential ownership increased, further improvements were established to support the growing community and the ideals of the Temperance philosophy.


Improvements such as the Westerleigh Collegiate Institute were built. It was a school with grades from kindergarten to college and was located in the middle of College Avenue near New York Place. Also built was University Temple, a 4,000 seat auditorium located at the foot of The Boulevard on Clinton B Fiske Avenue. Here, lectures, political speeches, art, poetry science and entertainment were regularly offered.

Westerleigh Tennis Club


Westerleigh Tennis Club

A 500 guest hotel called The Park Hotel, located on the Boulevard adjacent to University Temple, was built to accommodate as many as 200,000 to 300,000 yearly visitors to the park. These park amenities were the backbone of the community's attraction.

In 1903 the college and the auditorium were both burnt down within weeks of each other and interest in the park fell rapidly. The Park Hotel was torn down and sold to the City of New York where Public School 30 was built in 1905 to accommodate the loss of educational facilities for the growing Westerleigh population.

In 1907 the movement donated a three acre parcel of land to the City of New York with the understanding that it would always be used as a recreational area. That land parcel is the current site of Westerleigh Park.

In the late 1800's, The National Prohibition Campground Association built the camp ground complete with ball fields, bowling alleys, stables and tennis courts. Our club, the Westerleigh Tennis Club, found its beginning not in the formation of Prohibition Park, but in its demise caused by the fires of 1903. In 1910, the founding fathers of the club endeavored to form a tennis club and purchased land to accommodate tennis courts. Theses 11 founding fathers lived in the Westerleigh area and must have learned to play tennis on the courts of Prohibition Park. Due to the park's downfall and ultimately the sale of all parcels of land, they must have found themselves without tennis courts. They were probably Prohibitionists themselves.

Information & History Provided by Greg Argila