Indian Village Tennis Club Centennial Time Line
1912 – 2012
Edited and compiled by:
Jim Harvey and Sue Webb
This document was prepared in June 2012 to provide the reader a historical overview of the first 100 years of the Indian Village Tennis Club.
We acknowledge here that a major source of our information came from the following documents: “The First Fifty Years of the Indian Village Tennis Club” by William P. Black published in pamphlet form in 1963, and “History of Indian Village Tennis Club” authored by former member of the Club Michael Brady and prepared in August 2002. We refer interested parties to these more detailed documents for a more complete understanding of the evolution of Indian Village Tennis Club. We are further indebted to Chris and Diane Foster for their unceasing efforts to edit and produce the Club’s Newsletter (Smoke Signals) as those newsletters have formed the basis for describing the Club’s more recent history from 2002 to 2012.
On April 16 an organizational meeting was held for what was originally called Indian Village Club. The club’s reason for being, however, dates back to a decision taken in 1894 by owners of what was then known as the Cook Farm.
Owners of the property of what is now Indian Village were the widow and children of the recently deceased John Owen. Their decision in 1894 was to subdivide and develop a part of their property into a fine residential area extending north from East Jefferson Avenue to the present location of Kercheval Avenue. They began cutting through three streets-Seminole, Iroquois and Burns- from Jefferson Avenue to the present location of Kercheval Avenue. A widely held belief was that evidence of earlier Indian occupancy of the land led to the choice of Indian tribe names for two of the streets, but later it was believed that the Owen family just liked the names and the Indian Village designation for the subdivision was an afterthought.
Initially the efforts to develop the area were not very successful, but from 1905 to 1911, the development of Indian Village proceeded more rapidly, and by the beginning of the latter year nearly 100 houses had been built, of which about half were on Seminole, including seven just north of Kercheval. The great majority of the homes on the three Indian Village streets at this time however, were between Jefferson and Agnes. Meanwhile, more houses were built on Parker, Van Dyke, Seyburn and Van Dyke Place.
It was early in 1911 that the idea of a “permanent” tennis club in or close to Indian Village began to be seriously discussed by residents of the area. An informal group had built a court at the corner of Van Dyke Place and Seyburn, while another court had been constructed on a vacant lot on Iroquois between Lafayette and Agnes and operated by a group of neighbors on a year-to-year lease basis as the Iroquois Tennis Club. However, the lack of space for needed expansion and the danger of termination of the lease had led to growing dissatisfaction with this arrangement.
Leading spirits in the move towards larger and more permanent tennis facilities were Wayland D. Stearns of Seminole Avenue, who was a nephew of Frederick K. Stearns, founder of the drug company bearing his name; R. McClelland Brady of the Hygeia Filter Co.; and Howard Brooke of Burns Avenue, president of the Hydraulic Oil Storage and Engineering Co. Many discussions were held regarding the physical location of the new club with the final suggestion by Mr. Brooke that it might be possible to obtain the lots to the north and south of what was then a stub end of Coe Street on the east side of Parker and have this stub end to the alley vacated by the city. The lot north of Coe was 30 feet wide and the lot south was 66 feet wide. By Mr. Brook’s calculation, the total space would be sufficient for three tennis courts and a small “shelter” or club house.
Options on the two lots in question were obtained in 1912 at prices of $2,500 for the 66 foot lot and $2,000 for the 30 foot lot including a small house located upon it. At a meeting on March 7, 1912, in the old Penobscot Building, nine sponsors of the tennis club idea approved the actions of Mr. Brooke, named him a committee of one to purchase the north lot for $2,000 and authorized Arthur C. O’Connor, who lived on Van Dyke and was present at the meeting, to handle the approach to the Detroit Common Council on the issue of requesting the City to vacate the stub end of Coe. A formal petition for the closing of this stub end, which was described as unpaved and “merely a mud hole”, was then drawn up and signed by the nine men present at the meeting.
Also at this meeting a committee was appointed and empowered to lay out a prospectus of the cost of building courts. Suggested for their consideration was the name “Indian Village Club”. Among the members was Miss Madeline Newman of Jefferson Avenue, who was not present but who was one of the neighborhood’s leading tennis enthusiasts and a daughter of one of Detroit’s prominent physicians.
The Detroit Common Council accepted the recommendation of its Committee on Street Openings that the petition for the closing of the stub end of Coe be approved. The new owner’s paid expenses of $408.23. In an article from the Detroit Journal, April 16, 1912, Alderman James Vernor took some heat for allowing this without giving the people of the neighborhood a chance to be heard on the subject.
Meanwhile the club organization committee had drawn up a set of proposed bylaws, and had obtained membership applications, and increased the number of subscribers to the club’s “Guarantee Fund” to 33. The total subscription amount was $5,450.31. At a meeting of 15 of these “Guarantors of the Indian Village Club” on April 4, 1912, at the Frederick Stearns Co. offices, a financial plan for the club was outlined and Mr. Brooke was authorized to purchase the property south and north of what was now the vacated stub end of Coe, and to proceed with the construction of three courts for play as soon after June 1 as possible. The proposed by-laws were read, and, after minor corrections, it was voted that they should be recommended to a meeting of prospective members to be held on April 16. Notices of this meeting “for final organization and incorporation of the proposed Indian Village Club” were then sent to all those who had applied for membership.
The organizational meeting was held on April 16, 1912 and attended by 41 persons, of whom 40 were men. The forty-first was the previously mentioned Miss Newman. Physical plans and the proposed articles of association were read and approved and the proposed by-laws were adopted after minor changes. As finally adopted, the original by-laws established an active membership with a limit of 100, although the Board of Directors was permitted to exceed this limit if necessary to include people applying for membership by May 1, 1912. The initiation fee was set at $25, except for all those applying by May 1, 1912, while the dues were set at $25 per year. Privileges of the club were to be enjoyed by the “household” families of active members except for men over 21 to whom such privileges were made subject to an additional dues payment of $5. It was provided that names of applicants for membership should be posted for two weeks prior to action on the applications and that two negative votes by the Board of Directors should be sufficient to exclude the applicant.
The Articles of Association of the Indian Village Club were executed before a notary public on April 16 and received and recorded by the Secretary of State in Lansing under the date of April 25, 1912. They stated that the purposes of the club were “To promote social intercourse among its members and to purchase, own, provide and maintain for its members an athletic field or park upon which open air games may be played and to provide and maintain thereon a Club House for the convenience of its members.”
Subsequent meetings were held to discuss finances, members, and plans for a club house.
Board of Directors meeting on July 31, 1912 adopted a set of “preliminary Ground Rules” one of which called for the wearing of rubber soled shoes without heels and “complete, neat costumes, preferably white or gray” with no sleeveless shirts allowed. Another rule limited tennis play to two sets if others were waiting to play on the courts. Caretaker Maurice Velleman was the judge of when the courts were in proper condition for play.
Membership had been held at a total of 115, and construction of the new club house had started.
As the first summer progressed, play continued on the three courts and the club house was completed in early September at a final cost of $3,549.12 plus $416.18 for equipment and furnishings.
In summing up the activities of the new club during the first year, a Detroit Free Press society item on October 20, 1912 had this to say: “The Indian Village Club, which was formed last spring and whose active membership has just been completed, has concluded a very gay first summer season in a social as well as a sporting sense. The chief amusement of the club so far has been tennis, and every day during the past summer the fashionable colonists of the Indian Village neighborhood, both the married and younger set, could be seen playing on the three courts surrounding the club house which is located on Parker Avenue. Arrangements are being made so that the life of the club will still be active during the winter months. Bridge parties and teas as well as an occasional supper party will furnish amusement for the members of the club as well as their friends.” Later it was decided that it was not feasible to keep the club house open during the winter months due to lack of adequate heating and freezing pipes.
First annual membership meeting reflected on the accomplishments of the previous year but the treasurer’s report showed only $32.82 of cash on hand after a credit of $625 for 1913 dues paid in advance.
Official opening of the club for the season and tennis continued through November 1, while social activities again included afternoon teas for the ladies, supper parties, dances and bridge. It should be noted that there was no bar in the club at this time, but the serving of punch was permitted by the Board of Directors at some of the dances.
A significant act by the Board of Directors in 1913 was the hiring of Thomas I. Kirby as caretaker who had recently arrived from England, where he had served as butler on a large estate. He remained with the club for 32 years during which he took over much of the load of operating it, including the serving of the weekly suppers.
During these years the club continued to grow in membership, and a recommendation to increase the regular membership limit from 115 to 125 was adopted on June 27, 1914. In spite of this increase, the club president at the annual meeting on April 27, 1915 reported a “long list of applicants awaiting election”. Operating income exceeded operating expenses by a wide margin until 1918 when the margin was reduced by the waiving of dues for members in World War I service.
1919 saw the purchase of the 30 foot lot immediately north of the club property for $7,000. The reason for buying this lot and the small house on it was to provide a permanent home for Tom Kirby, the caretaker and steward who had by this time become virtually indispensable to the operation of the club and its social activities. Dues were increased from $25 to $40 to help pay the increase in expenses.
A happy and active social life had been maintained at the club during the years from 1914 thru 1919. Saturday suppers were continued at a price of 75 cents, which was raised to $1 in 1919. A total of 940 meals were served in 1917 and dancing followed the suppers. Other social affairs were ladies’ teas and occasional card tournaments.
Several minor sports were introduced during this period including archery and quoits, shuffle board, croquet and clock golf. An “indoor golf outfit”, which was introduced in 1917, did not, however, catch the fancy of club members and was subsequently removed.
Club improvements included an expansion of the kitchen and the addition of a ladies’ dressing room in 1915 and new veranda furnishings, plants, and a flag and flagstaff in 1916. A large elk’s head was donated and mounted over the fireplace in 1918. It became a favorite of members and hung there until 1948 when it was badly damaged by a fire and had to be removed.
Postwar depression saw a decrease in membership, as well as a growing movement of older members to Grosse Pointe and an increasing interest in golf. Through the continued election of new members, however, the club was able to hold its total membership between 105 and 120 during the 10-year period. Along with decreased membership came financial problems for the club. Loans and mortgages were negotiated and by the end of 1929 total debt amounted to $7000.
During the first half of the 1920 decade, continued enthusiasm was shown by the membership for the Saturday suppers and dances, the annual costume Halloween parties, and the annual keno parties. In 1926 and 1927, however, lower attendance was noted at the Saturday suppers, and in 1928 it was decided to change these to Thursday and to omit music until after Labor Day. With no improvement in attendance resulting, a further change to Monday nights was made in 1929.
Tennis court usage decreased, first being noticed in 1928 and it was decided to sell ten special tennis playing memberships to younger men of the neighborhood for $25 per season.
The attraction of golf to the older members first showed its ugly head in 1921 when an Indian Village Club golf tournament was arranged at the Country Club of Detroit in late September.
In 1922 part of the courts were flooded and ice skating began on a regular basis and club members were charged $10 for skating privileges.
The club enjoyed a relatively prosperous year in 1930, but in succeeding years the growing effects of the Great Depression negatively impacted membership and activities at the Club. Starting at the beginning of 1931 and reaching a high rate by 1933, resignations caused the regular membership to drop to 60 at the end of the latter year. This drop occurred despite a reduction from $40 to $25 in regular dues in 1933, a provision that dues could be paid in two installments, and a prorating of the $50 initiation fee for new members over a four-year period.
Attendance at all activities had decreased and dances were discontinued in 1932. At the annual meeting in 1933 it was voted that some dances should be held during the year, with the feeling expressed that the club “had drifted too much into a Card Club.” As a result, some “wonderful parties” were reported to have been held in 1933 and better attendance was also reported at the regular suppers following a cut in their price from 75 cents to 50 cents.
May of 1938 saw a very serious club situation as identified by President Ralph Lane. He outlined what he considered to be the possible courses open for the operation of the club during the coming season. These were: to continue to drift as the club had done the past few years, to quit and turn the property back to the bank holding the mortgage, to consolidate with the Colony Club, to consolidate with the Indian Village Association, to change the “social scheme” and turn the club over to the younger tennis playing group. A vote was taken and at the annual meeting on May 23, 1938, resignations of the existing directors were accepted and younger officers elected. At the annual meeting in 1939, the members were told that it was the opinion of the Board that, to operate the club properly, a minimum of 70 members was needed with annual dues of $50.
At the annual meeting on April 9, 1940, the Board of Directors was increased from six to nine and a discussion was held on ways and means of increasing the regular membership which was now down to 42. One idea was to make the club more attractive to those not primarily interested in tennis. As a result of this discussion the new secretary-treasurer, Arthur J. Rhode, was instructed by the Board to apply for a liquor license and to procure a bar for the club. On both assignments he was successful and the bar began its operations at the beginning of June, 1940 with Tom Kirby adding bar tending to his other duties. Mr. Rhode was also successful in persuading the Detroit Trust Company to extend the mortgage at 5% interest.
In September of this year the club’s first invitation tennis tournament was held, skating was continued in the late fall, and an open house “for a Tom & Jerry and exchange of greetings” was held on December 29, 1040, with a second hand oil stove installed to supply external heat.
As a result of the country’s entry into WWII, affairs of the club arrived at a critical stage in 1942. The loss of members to the military services cut income down to a point where it became impossible to pay both interest on the mortgage debt as well as city and county taxes on the club property. With the persuasion of Frank Donovan, the Detroit Trust Company withheld any action in 1942 towards foreclosure of the mortgage. In 1943 however, with the membership still falling and unpaid interest and taxes still accumulating, the Detroit Trust Company issued a notice of mortgage foreclosure on September 11, claiming a total of $7,350.22 of principal and interest due it, and advertised a forthcoming mortgage sale in the Detroit Legal News of that date. The sale was held on December 10, 1943 and the club’s property was sold to the bank. In 1944 an agreement was finally negotiated by George A. Nicholson, Jr. that the bank would return the property to the club if a cash payment of $1,500 was made to it and a land contract was written for additional payments amounting to $6,000.
To obtain the necessary funds for the payments and to open the club in 1945, it was decided that a minimum of $2,500 would have to be subscribed by the membership, with those subscribing to become participating or “A” members. Such members would share an interest in the equity of the club, would alone have voting rights and would have other special privileges, including a lower dues rate than non-participating members. This money was raised shortly before the December 10, 1944 deadline by 24 subscribing members at $100 each and 1 split subscription at $50.
Tom Kirby was forced by ill health to resign and move out of the house he had occupied since 1919. After a Kentucky mountain couple had moved in under an agreement to do part-time caretaker work in return for its rent free use, the house was ruled as unfit for human occupancy by the City Board of Health.
Member volunteers held the first “clean up” to put the club house and courts in shape at the beginning of the 1945 season.
Dues differentiation became complex in 1945: $40 for A members, $50 for B members, $25 for single women members, $30 for military members and $20 for wives of old members in military service. The total membership held steady at 50. An impromptu V-J Day celebration was held.
1946 saw Court Chairman Nicholas S. Aagesen persuading a sewer contractor to truck his wet clay to the club instead of to a more distant dumping ground. With member help the additional clay was used to build up the surface of court 1. Dinners at the club house resumed this year and were held on both Sundays and Tuesdays, with Entertainment Committee Chairman John N. Failing and his wife, Charlotte, supplying both the food and service. (The Failings were the aunt and uncle of current member, Julie Norris.)
One of the parties held in 1947 included a bachelors’ ball and (the result largely of a surplus of champagne at season’s end) the first of what were to become annual champagne breakfasts.
The evening of September 26, 1948 saw a fire which seriously damaged the men’s locker room and the east end of the main living room. The insurance settlement was for $4,912.34 which included $35 for the badly singed elk’s head over the fireplace.
After much deliberation as to whether to build a new clubhouse, repair the old clubhouse, or move to Grosse Pointe, it was decided on February 13, 1949 to retain the existing clubhouse and location. After repairs and replacements, and the razing of the old house, $224.43 was still unexpended at the end of 1949. A self service system was initiated at the bar to hold down costs.
At the beginning of this decade a proposal was received from the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club for a merger of the two clubs, enjoying full privileges including the use of a newly completed swimming pool and not yet constructed tennis courts. The Hunt Club wanted $8,000 for 40 members to build the courts. This proposal was voted down.
In 1951 Agnes McMurtrie began her long and efficient service as caterer for the weekly dinners and special parties.
In 1953 the total membership rose to 67 after holding at just under 60 in 1951 & 1952. Included under projects undertaken was the experimental top surfacing of the No. 1 court with “Sim-Cote” for quicker drying after rains. An active social program included 25 dinners and parties at which more than 1,000 meals were served by Ms. McMurtrie and more money was spent for decorations and extra entertainment than in previous years.
By 1956 there were 84 members and an Invitational Doubles Tournament was held. Among the 1958 costume dances was a rip roaring Bastille Day “bust-out”.
Joe Kristufek, a former Pittsburg city singles champion, was elected President in 1958. Many improvements were planned and accomplished under his leadership in 1959 including strengthening the foundations under various sections of the clubhouse, remodeling the kitchen with plywood paneling and cabinet work, extensive roof repair work and rearranging and rebuilding the women’s dressing room and shower.
Also this year a new set of articles of incorporation for the reorganized club was presented for review to the Michigan Corporation and Securities Commission. They rejected the name “Indian Village Club” as being too similar to the already incorporated “Indian Village Association”, a neighborhood protective organization which had been formed by residents of Indian Village back in 1937. The name “Indian Village Tennis Club” was then suggested to the commission and accepted.
At the annual meeting of “A” members on February 14, 1960, the new by-laws were unanimously approved. Meanwhile, the total membership had neared the 100 mark. Attendance at the Wednesday night dinners and special parties showed a moderate gain over 1959 and several team matches were held with other clubs. Elected as an honorary member of the club in the summer of 1960 was Mrs. Jean Hoxie, Hamtramck tennis coach and internationally known tennis teacher, in recognition of her “extraordinary contributions to tennis.”
During 1961, the total membership of the club passed the 100-mark for the first time since 1930.
At the annual meeting on February 11, 1962, a proposition for moving the club to a vacant area on Mack and Seminole Avenues was voted down. Also voted down were the high cost propositions to ligh the courts for night use and for converting them to full-fledged all weather “Hartru” courts.
In June of 1962 a special Fiftieth Anniversary dinner and dance was held. Among the guests at this milestone celebration was Mrs. T.H. Hinchman, Jr., age 90-plus and widow of the charter member who had designed the clubhouse back in 1912.
The first 50 years of the Indian Village Tennis Club ended with the club in a strong financial position, with a large membership and with the physical plant in good repair.
Frank Dillon was elected to the Board of IVTC in 1962 and served continuously with Joe Kristufek (former President and treasurer for 21 years) until 1983. Dues were only $70 and there was a waiting list for new members. About half of the members lived in Grosse Pointe, while five lived in Detroit.
In 1964, Board discussion regarding replacing the clay courts with hard courts, but the $13,000 proposed estimate was viewed as too great an obstacle.
In the late 60’s Joe Kristufek took responsibility for personally directing tennis clinics for club players, a forerunner of the Monday night lessons.
In 1967, the Club’s first membership directory in pamphlet form was printed and revealed a total of 147 members, 25 of whom were women. The social unrest in Detroit in 1967 led to a discussion whether the Club should relocate or merge with a suburban club.
In 1969, President Werner Schmidt noted that the combined efforts of Joe Kristufek and Frank Dillon alone were almost equivalent to a full-time manager of the Club. A motion was made at an A member meeting to add lighting to the courts, but the motion was defeated.
Kristufek was awarded a free Life Membership, including voting and office-holding privileges, in gratitude for his efforts on behalf of IVTC. This was an unprecedented honor. Also, at an “A” member meeting it was suggested that a woman should be invited to become an “A” member, but the motion was not passed.
In 1971, the Board discussed the idea of hiring a general manager for the Club, but the issue was deferred to a full “A” membership meeting, and the “A” members voted in favor of retaining Joe Kristufek as general manager at the rate of $200 per week on a trial basis, with days of responsibility being from Tuesday through Sunday.
The Board determined to hire a non-member employee, Archie Maxwell, as “club Steward,” to be at the Club every day except Mondays, with various duties including court and clubhouse maintenance. The Board considered and determined to install a sprinkling system for the courts at an estimated cost of $5,000. The Board also concluded unanimously that women should be prohibited from playing tennis after 5:00 p.m., unless no male members were waiting to play.
In 1972, an “A” member meeting discussion regarding the issue of women’s playing time. The majority of the fifteen men who showed up for the meeting concluded that the previously described regulations were being observed “by most women.”
In 1973, a significant resurfacing of the tennis courts project was approved and accomplished with new drains installed, and a new power roller purchased, costing $17,984. Board agenda item was ladies’ showers requiring repair. Secretary Roy Cumming noted that from past experience, the ladies’ showers are very rarely used and consequently any additional expense put into them would not be appropriate.
In 1975 “A” member meeting discussion regarding the “possibility of a nasty legal confrontation with the Women’s Lib movement,” as it related to the Club’s discriminatory practices against females.
In 1976, the election of John King as President brought some beginning moves towards more open discussion of the legal and societal inappropriateness of denying female members a more significant role (through “A” membership and through abolition of specified playing times for women).
In 1978, women became eligible for “A” membership, in conformity with Michigan and federal statues and case law. The Board approved $375 for the purchase of fans at the same time that it denied approval for a $3000 air conditioning system. Member Paula Sweeney, a 1952 U. S. Olympian in fencing was inducted into Wayne State University Hall of Fame for her fencing achievements.
In 1980, the installation of a court sprinkling system at an estimated cost of $2,500 was approved by the Board.
During Frank Huster’s presidency (1980-81), Jeekers Rodgers, a longtime female member, and a group of other women prevailed upon Huster to change the serving of dinner to 8:30 on Wednesday nights. Previously, there had been heavy male tennis play until it got dark, and as a consequence, the dinner was scheduled to begin at dusk. One of the more modest moves towards recognizing the existence of women in the Club was Huster’s determination (approved by the Board) that letters to married members should be addressed in the format of “Mr. and Mrs.” instead of exclusively being sent to the male member as was the past custom.
1983 was the year of Joe Kristufek’s death. There were 369 members of the Club, seemingly the high water mark as it relates to the size of the Club membership (including spouses and 60 single memberships). Club profits that year were well over $4000, despite a large loss on the President’s Ball with its “unchewable steaks.” Levi Jackson, who was the Club’s first African-American member, was elected President. He had been captain of the Yale football team.
A year that will live in infamy in the annals of Indian Village Tennis Club was 1984 – an all-consuming fire broke out in the early morning hours at the Clubhouse, completely destroying the 1912 clubhouse on November 24 of this year. The Detroit News reported: “the horrified officers of the Indian Village Tennis Club contemplated the smoldering ruins and an Indian head carving that was all that remained of their clubhouse.” The following morning edition of the Detroit Free Press quoted Roy Cumming regarding a vow to rebuild: “We’ll keep it going somehow.” And they did!
By 1985, it being evident that the insurance coverage was insufficient to rebuild the clubhouse that was desired (there was only $95,000.00 insurance coverage), plans were made to rebuild a substantially larger tennis clubhouse, to hire an architect (Charles McCafferty), and to create a 3,278 square foot clubhouse. Also, air conditioning was added to make the Clubhouse environment more comfortable in the summer.
The Clubhouse had been underinsured, and it became evident that one solution to the financial problems of rebuilding the Clubhouse was to issue bonds at 10% interest (with a face value of $500), but only 82 of 184 members participated in the bond sale (although some members bought more than one bond). Ted Monahan (who had been a member since 1975) was selected to be construction manager for the entire project under the supervision of a building committee composed of Harry Constant, Frank Dillon and Al Jacoby. The final cost of the new structure was fixed contractually at $172,805. Through tireless efforts by Ted Monahan and his construction company, the new clubhouse was erected within 2 months and the Club was able to provide an opening night party in late May and its Wednesday night dinner on June 19, 1985. 1985 family dues were pegged at $230, $200 for a single person and $50 for a senior with Wednesday night dinners set at $8 ($10 for guests), wine and beer were raised to $1, soda pop $0.75, and mixed drinks $2.
On May 5, 1987 Miss Sue Webb, who had joined the Club in 1980, was elected its first female “A” member. The Board authorized applying for a $70,000 mortgage in an effort to retire the issued bonds within the prescribed 5 year period. A new intermediate membership category (for those under the age of 30) was created upon the motion of Ted Monahan and the approval of the Board.
Ted Monahan was elected President in 1988 apparently the first President of IVTC not to have previously served as Vice-President. To combat dwindling attendance and losses from the previous President’s Balls (then held in October), the Board mandated a “no black tie” affair with a sit-down dinner of beef tenderloin and fresh fish. The party was a huge success with 90 people in attendance. In Monahan’s second term as President, membership increased to 193, and donations from 53 members were obtained to remodel the bar area and install a cooler. An enduring tennis tournament was instituted this year: Club Men’s and Women’s Doubles Tournament.
In 1989, another gender barrier falls with the election of Mrs. Diane Olmstead to “A” membership, Mrs. Olmstead being a married woman.
In 1990 Victor Lisabeth was elected as President and Clark Scholes as Vice-President with appointment of Norm Sprock as treasurer. Diane Olmsted became the first “A” member to be elected a director, although not the first director of her gender, of course, as Madeline Newman had won that honor at the Club’s first official meeting in 1912 long before the concept of “A” and “B” memberships existed.
Mandatory requirement of coat and tie for all Wednesday night dinners was abolished in 1991 and selection of a “club manager” (Victor Lisabeth) was accomplished at the cost of $400 per month in that same year.
In 1993 a new mixed doubles invitational tournament was instituted, which continues through today, except that currently the invitational is gender linked in that there is a women’s and men’s competition involving a member and a guest for each team.
A pool table was purchased in 1994, interestingly involving a Board division on the issue which was resolved by an informal approval by several directors without a by-law mandated meeting and vote! The Board eventually approved retaining the pool table on a trial basis for one year. And the pool table remains a fixture at the Club as this Timeline is prepared!
The elections in 1995 resulted in Geoff Proven as President, Jeanette Paskin as Vice-President, and Rodger Sulad as Treasurer with an increase in the A membership to 35. There was a termination of winter-time activities at the Hunt Club in the face of dwindling interest. A New Year’s Eve celebration was revived for a couple of years and then abandoned.
In 1997, the board of eight men and Jeannette Paskin voted not to invite spouses to the annual “A” member meeting. Wednesday night dinners were reduced to one a month (of interest that the Wednesday night dinner had its genesis in the days when wealthy Indian Village members provided Wednesday as a day off for household cooking and cleaning staff).
The Board discussed and rejected the concept of allowing two “A” members in one family in 1998, but the momentum to change this was evident. By this year, there was an even split on the Board between females and males, with the president empowered to break ties. Norm Sprock developed the first website for IVTC.
Dick Ventura was elected as President in 1999. Under his leadership, the Board eliminated the position of Club Manager, with an increasing load of activities falling upon the leadership. An increase in the wine and beer selections was a significant development, leading to significantly larger wine sales. Use of committee structure was implemented to replace the role that the club manager previously exerted in a multitude of areas.
The first year that married couples served together as “A” members was 2000 and the inaugural marital units represented were: Marsden and Elke Burger, Dick and Peggy Ventura, and Rodger and Darlene Sulad. Membership was in the range of 150. Roy Cumming presented with a Cup in his name to honor him for his outstanding service to IVTC.
In 2001, two children’s parties were held this year. Jack Dillon was recipient of the Roy Cumming Service Award.
Victor Lisabeth was awarded the Roy Cumming Service Award in 2002.
Ted Monahan was presented with the Roy Cumming Service Award in 2003. “A” member meeting results in a discussion regarding a possible change of the by-laws to provide that persons with a certain level of seniority in the Club (hypothetically, 3-5 years) should automatically become “A” members. Through the date of this Timeline no such change has been effectuated. A computerized chit process with use of a touch-screen and a swipe card was initiated and abandoned.
In 2004, a professional tennis instructor, John Geremich, and his associate pro, Ken Rychwalski were retained to serve as the Indian Village Tennis Club pros and handle the teaching responsibilities associated with the Monday evening tennis lessons. Hosted by Ruth and Jim Harvey, the First Annual Indian Village Tennis Club “Weekend Away” program occurred in September (enjoying the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore area, Chimney Corners Resort facilities, and activities of canoeing, tennis, hiking, golf and gourmet and more modest dining experiences), and has been replicated each year since.
In 2005, Harry Constant was presented with the Roy Cumming Service Award in 2005. Donated funds (significantly enhanced by a dinner party sponsored by the Ventura’s) resulted in the construction of a new addition to the Clubhouse—a fireplace. TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday) parties are significantly transitioning to THIS (Thank Heaven it’s Saturday) parties as it became evident that it is easier on the host/ess to have Friday evening and Saturday to prepare the sumptuous feasts that the Club members have become accustomed to.
Dick and Peggy Ventura were presented with the Roy Cumming Service Award in 2006. Draft beer arrived at IVTC on a permanent basis with an ability to provide 4 different draft beers. Garden renovation was undertaken by Chris Foster with a better layout of plant material, and installation of a sprinkler system for the lawn and flower beds.
To quote Smoke Signals: “What has 56 tennis players, 5 rain delays, great food, excellent conversation, and exciting tennis? Of course, it was the IVTC 2006 Member-Guest Tournament . . .” This was also the year of the First Annual Davis Cup Tournament spearheaded by member Cora Nichols. This involved tennis competition between teams representing 5 countries, and dinner presentations from the 5 countries. The First Annual Golf Outing of IVTC was organized by Julie and Jim Norris and held at Rattle Run Golf Course in St. Clair.
Marsden and Elke Burger were presented with the Roy Cumming Service Award In 2007. Alex Gow and Cherie Southwood provided a delectable array of gourmet Indian delicacies with incense wafting onto the porch for an especially enchanting THIS party with exotic fabrics hanging from the rafters, and sitar music filling the air.
The 2008 IVTC Women’s Interclub A and B Tennis teams both win the Interclub Championships. Also that year, Clarke Scholes was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame for winning a Gold medal in the 1952 Olympics.
For 2009, a new and greatly improved website (with an interactive calendar, quick links to the Event Schedule, and a Newsletter archive) was developed for IVTC by Marty Petz. Going retro, IVTC had a Wooden Racket Tournament in July 2009. Tom Roberts was winner and Mike Monahan a close second. Through the fine efforts of member Judy Sarvis, IVTC now offers weekly yoga classes.
Chris and Diane Foster were presented with the Roy Cumming Service Award in 2010. Through collaborative efforts within the Club, Monday evening lessons now also include a social/dining opportunity with a light dinner being provided at modest cost to the Monday evening lesson participants.
In 2011 the club witnessed the addition of two new benches on the tennis courts, courtesy of the woodworking and carpentry skills of Geoff Proven.
The Club is abuzz with activity as the Centennial year begins:
- Painting the inside of the Clubhouse, repainting the parking garage walls (Dennis Smart and Peter Scarpelli being the primary and uncompensated and greatly appreciated painters)
- Installation and painting of the new side walls (on Parker and the alley—through the direction and assistance of Ted and Mike Monahan)
- Creation of a Centennial Cookbook (Ruth Harvey, Norma Eschenburg, Julie Norris, Editors)
- Development and adoption of a specialized Centennial logo (Marty Petz)
- Commemorative centennial tiles with the IVTC logo from our neighbor Pewabic Pottery (Committee members: Linda Rankin, Jim and Ruth Harvey, and Mary Waterstone)
- Creation of the 100 year Timeline (Sue Webb and Jim Harvey)
- The Centennial Club was created by Peggy O’Neill with assistance from Joanne Petz to gather member donations. These donations are to provide for club improvements like upgrading the porch lighting to fans and replacing and upgrading the interior and exterior furniture.
- Additionally, a week of Centennial events was created to provide enjoyment for the past and present members of IVTC:
- “High Tea” (spearheaded by Peggy Ventura)
- Doubles Mixer (luncheon provided by Peggy Ventura)
- Golf Outing (organized by Jim and Julie Norris and Leo and Cora Nichols)
- Games night (organized by Cheryl Huff)
- Black-tie event directed by Geoff Proven, the “Centennial Dinner Party” and Dessert (an extra-special “Presidents Party”).
As always, the success of Indian Village Tennis Club was, is, and will continue to be dependent upon a “village” of helpers and we thank the entire “village” for their contributions to the success of the Club’s Centennial and the overall operation of the Club in general.