Heights History: Heights Casino, 75 Montague Street

As part of its regular series “Brooklyn One Building At A Time,” Brownstoner’s Montrose Morris offers a detailed history of the Heights Casino at 75 Montague Street. The Flemish Revival building was constructed in 1905, designed to accommodate sports and club activities, as well as a reference to Brooklyn’s Dutch heritage. For its entire life, the Casino has been a “tony private club whose members had blood as blue as a yachtsman’s fine navy blazer,” Brownstoner says. It is also home to the first indoor tennis court in the nation, which can be transformed into a posh ballroom.

Historically, by the 1950s, the Casino’s restrictive policies—no Jews, no Negroes, no new money—had about driven it to bankruptcy. As with most organizations, policies evolved, leading to diversity that has kept the club alive & well today. Read more at Brownstoner here.

Bob Furman also wrote a history of clubs in the neighborhood last June for BHB. See his tasty read here.

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  • Mr. Crusty

    So it was economic reasons that opened up their membership to Jews and Blacks, not moral one’s. Why does that not surprise me?

  • Jorale-man

    I wonder how many people of color are members there today? It’s probably not information they’d divulge but I’d be curious to know.

  • my2cents

    As jewish commenter (and non-member of the Casino who has zero interest in becoming one), i have to say let’s not start picking on the Heights Casino due to its history. There are many many institutions in New York City (The New York Athletic Club just to name one) that still exist today which had equally bigoted restrictions in the past excluding minorities from membership. It’s a sad chapter in our civic and national past, but I think it’s unfair to single out one institution for a practice which was sadly part of the cultural climate of that time.
    I just wanted to say this before this thread turns into another tiresome “snob-bashing” fest.

  • Gerry

    @ my2cents – i am a member of both Heights Casino and the New York Athletic Club my wife is of German/Jewish heritage I am Irish and Catholic we have 3 children who have been raised at the Unitarian Church of All Souls on Lexington Ave @ 81 stree..

    There is not much diversity at either establishment but my wife and I have been welcome at the Casino my money is the same color green as the the blue-blood WASPS here.

    The NYAC is another story Irish are predominant and not much divesity but Travers Island in New Rochellle is where the clubs Italians rule and that facility is open to many underprivedged people including the late Paul Newmans Hole in the Wall Gang for needy youth – Joanne Woodward with her jewish heriate had been welcome here also.

    Anyone with money to pay dues can join each club.

    Over time both the Casino and NYAC will be come diversified.

  • Gerry

    And the Heights Casino has NO pool who the heck needs a raquetball court?

  • Freddie

    What are the membership fees like? I was always wondering about that. And on top of that, do you have to pay pro fees and court fees? That amounts to a lot of money! The building is handsome though and very unique.

  • AEB

    My father belonged to Manhattan’s Jewish-established City Athletic Club, the riposte, so to speak, to the NYAC.

    The mentality behind its creation, and other such institutions, was “if they won’t have us, we’ll build our own.” Admirable, under the circumstances.

  • Ellie

    I inquired about joining the club as my hubby and I play tennis. You have to be sponsored by a member, each pay $6000 joining fee, pay $2000 each a year for membership and the over and above that, pay to play. Turned out to be a costly option for a game of tennis, so we bought bicycles instead affording us a quick and economical way of exploring the 5 boroughs.
    Maybe a member could confirm these costs?

  • AEB

    Ah, to be a member of an institution that so obviously confers importance on its members!

    I mean, if one pays an absurd amount of money to become a part of it, one must be one of the elect, no?

  • dog lover

    Gerry. You may be interested in knowing that the Heights Casino does not have a “racquetball” court. Not sure what the fees are but maintaining a building that is over 100 years old takes up much of the income from fees. Paying as you play supports the pros and upkeep of the facilities. That means if you don’t play you don’t pay. Fair enough. Right now the Casino is paying a lot to shade the windows so as not to pollute the night with lights from the tennis courts. And they moved their fitness classes to the basement so the noise won’t bother Montague Street residents. My understanding is there is a long waiting list to join and to get your kids into the junior programs there.

  • Yada

    Figures, a place that blocks food trucks would also block minorities.

  • BeauZak

    It was the 1950s. STFU already!

  • Gerry

    @ Dog Lover – thanks i knew it was a Tennis Court it was very early this morning before work when i wrote that messege.

    For my family the Heights Casino provides a community here in Brooklyn Heights other than private schools here we would not know anyone here in the neighborhood .

    And we do not play tennis my children are not interested in tennis not yet — we enjoy the dining room at least twice per month and the holiday parties, etc..

    i have met some very nice people at the Heights Casino it is not the racist place it may appear to be – and Jewish people are welcome my wife is proof of that.

  • Winstion Smith

    Looks like I might have disturbed a Wasps nest when I shared that story about the racist ways of the Casino, the other day… I love their attempt at damage control but aside from a few “tokens” it still seems like it’s bigotry as usual over there.

  • Gerry

    @ Winstion Smith – change takes time at the Heights Casino we do our best.

    The club is used by community groups like the Lions Club for monthly meetings and a few members are African-Americans they attend meetings here eat in our dinning room.

    The club has embraced me who is not WASP but Irish/Catholic and my wife is more than a token Jew.

    You are too hard on the Heights Casino people.

  • She’s Crafty

    A post just for PromGal. Why no comments?

  • Willowtowncop

    NYC Parks Dept tennis courts permits: Full-season permits for adults 18-61 cost $200. Permits for seniors 62 and over cost $20 and permits for juniors below 18 cost $10. Single-play and reservation tickets cost $15.