The Racquet and Tennis Club is a private social club and athletic club located at 370 Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets, New York, New York.
Designed by Charles Follen McKim of the former firm McKim, Mead, and White in an integrated Italian Renaissance style, the Racquet and Tennis Club building is representative of the ornate private clubs constructed in New York during the early twentieth century. Today it performs an important architectural role on Park Avenue as a foil to the Seagram Building and the Lever House and other corporate structures in the glass-clad vocabulary of International Modernism.
Construction began on December 20, 1916, and was completed on September 7, 1918. The builder was Mark Edlitz, and the estimated cost was $400,000. The building is about 200 feet by 100 feet (30 m x 60 m) and five stories tall. The exterior is stone and brick over a structural steel frame. According to the original plans, 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 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.
Unlike many other private clubs that once catered exclusively to men and now admit women, the Racquet and Tennis has held fast to its men-only membership policy. (Women are welcome at club social events, however.) Its ancestor, The Racquet Court Club, opened in 1876 at 55 West 26th Street with only a racquets court. The second club house at 27 West 43rd Street (1891) had one racquet court and one real tennis court. The club moved to the Park Avenue home in 1918.
In 1987, the club famously refused to allow Evelyn David (who was, obviously, not a member of the club) to train for the Women's World Tennis Championship, citing its men-only rules. At the time, Ms. David was considered by several leading members of the club to be in the top six or seven female court tennis players in the United States.