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Brooklyn's Montauk Club Celebrates 125 Years

By Mary Brennan

Back in 1890, the most affluent area in the United States was the Park Slope neighborhood in the City of Brooklyn. And in Brooklyn, the place to see and be seen was The Montauk Club, incorporated just a year earlier in 1889.

One hundred and twenty-five years later, The Montauk Club is one of the few remaining clubs in New York City and only one of two in Brooklyn. But the Club itself is quite different: no longer an elite Club for wealthy men, the Montauk Club welcomes members of all ages and affiliations. Modest dues, especially for our younger members, make it practical for almost any one to join. The sumptuous Victorian décor of the Club make it an elegant environment for private events, especially weddings.

Now, as then, the Montauk is a social club, with dining in our second floor dining room, originally the billiards room. Our lovely bar was recently featured in amNewYork as the oldest drinking establishment in Brooklyn. The ballroom on the first floor is used for special events and large private parties.

Although never a political club, many of the founding and early members of the Club were prominent politicians, including Alfred Chapin, David Boody and Charles Shieren, Mayors of the City of Brooklyn before consolidation in 1898; Lieutenant Governor Timothy Woodruff, also a President of the Club; and future mayors of the City of New York William Gaynor and Seth Low. In more recent times, Hugh Carey was a long-time member, both before and after his terms as Governor of the State of New York. Because of the prominence of its members, the Club became a required campaign stop for both local and national politicians. About 5,000 people came to a reception for William McKinley during a campaign stop in 1895. Virtually every President from Grover Cleveland through John F. Kennedy has visited the Club, either before or after their election.

The Club operated in temporary quarters until 1891 when the Clubhouse was opened. It was designed by Francis H. Kimball in the style of the Ca D'or in Venice. A terra cotta frieze on three sides depicts the scenes of the Montauk Indians, for whom the Club is named; another frieze over the main entrance shows the laying of the cornerstone in 1889. The original plans included a bowling alley in the basement and room on the 4th and 5th floors for members to stay. Today, the upper floors and basement have been converted to condominiums.

The men of the Montauk Club were quite forward-thinking for their time; a separate Lady's Entrance was built to the left of the main entrance, allowing women to proceed directly to the 3rd floor dining room and bypass all the spittoons and other items considered too delicate for the gentler sex. The first women's reception, in January 1892, hosted 1,500 people. By the 1970's, women were admitted as full members.

Today, the Club hosts regular social events for our members: Book Club, Beer Club, Wine Club, cocktail parties, Mystery nights, and dinners for all occasions. Members use the Club to host private parties, from intimate cocktail parties to large weddings. The Club members are diverse but we share an affection for this special place and a commitment to preserving its history.

We invite you to check out our website (www.Montaukclub.com) or contact us at 718-638-0800 or manager@montaukclub.com. We would love to show you around!

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