SCARBOROUGH, N.Y. Wealthy financier and president of the National City Bank of New York Frank Vanderlip bought the Woodlea estate in the Scarborough section of Ossining in 1910 with the intention of moving into it.
The Shepard Estate was a great place, on which about $2 million had been spent and I picked it up as a bargain, paying, I think, $165,000. Vanderlip recounted in 1935.
Vanderlip's wife Nacissa had a different opinion. She called the estate too grandiose.
When Nacissa refused to live there, Vanderlip decided to turn it into a country club. After 100 years, the Sleepy Hollow Country Club is still alive and kicking.
The club first opened on May 16, 1911 with 600 members. Newspaper headlines called it the most elaborate country club in America.
The club's history is filled with connections to rich and powerful men of the early 1900s who lived near and commuted from Scarborough. William Rockefeller, Percy Rockefeller, Oliver Harriman, Cornelius Vanderbilt, V. Everett Macy, Samuel Sloan, James Stillman, George Perkins and John Jacob Astor formed the club's advisory board in 1910 while they rode together on the 8:26 train to Manhattan in their private car attached to the rear of the train.
In its early years, the club offered many activities not typically seen together at country clubs such as tennis, squash, golf, equestrian riding and skeet and trap shooting. The club still offers all of those activities today, plus swimming, for its 573 members.
General Manager William Nitschke said the club is one of a dozen in the country today that offer equestrian activities.
We're trying to reach out to each other, he said.
Shooting takes place from October to April, Nitschke said, and it's mostly a weekend sport. Most club members shoot when the weather turns bad.
If the weather's still nice, they're going to golf, Nitschke said. He theorized the club gets more shooters on a bad day so they don't get stuck painting their house or something. 'I've gotta go shoot!'
The club's golf course has changed since it was first created, although the club recently renovated many of the holes to their original design. The 16th hole was recently selected by Golf Magazine as one of the top 500 golf holes in the world for its views of the Hudson River.
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