Montauk Club is Park Slope’s survivor of Gilded Age private-club era
Brooklyn was once home to quite a few elite clubs for its most important businessmen, professionals and political officials (all male, in those days). Most of them, such as the Brooklyn Club on Montague Street, are gone. But one that is still there is the Montauk Club at 25 Eighth Ave. in Park Slope.
Its elaborate late 19th century building, according to Brownstoner, was designed by well-known architect Francis Hatch Kimball, who also designed several of Manhattan’s earliest skyscrapers. The Montauk Club was modeled after Venice’s Ca d’Oro, a mansion on the Grand Canal that is now a museum. The building, remarkable for its elaborate window and ornamentation, opened in 1889. The club attracted wealthy members from all over Brooklyn; and in a day when most clubs wouldn’t admit women at all, members’ wives were given their own dining room upstairs. The club, unlike many others, also allowed Jews as members, according to Brownstoner.
While membership peaked in 1949, it dwindled afterward because of social and demographic changes. Eventually it was forced to close except for luncheons and special events, and to raise money, it transformed its basement and upper floors into condos and sold them to private individuals. Today, the club still survives and hosts dinners and Sunday brunch as well as special events such as a movie night and a spring foraging walk through Prospect Park.
All are welcome as members nowadays — women have been admitted since the 1960s.
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