The Newark Athletic Club was founded in 1919 . The original idea for the club came from former Congressman E.W. Gary and former Gov. Franklin Murphy. Construction of the NAC began in 1921, and the doors opened in 1923 with Gen. George Pershing presiding at the ceremonies. The building was sited in a prominent and highly visible location overlooking Military Park, around which were located many of the city’s major retail stores and businesses . Reflective of the city’s major regional and national important as a financial center, the Newark Athletic Club was seen by its over three thousand members as the social and cultural centerpiece within their professional lives.
According to the Newark News account, the club “immediately leaped to a position nationally known among organizations of its kind”. Athletes bearing the NAC emblem won cups and medals in meets all over the country. This framed photograph of the NAC basketball team displays the players names, the manager , chairman and the years 1924-25-26 inscribed beneath the players. Perhaps they were a championship squad.
The club’s numerous lounges areas, dining rooms, and meeting rooms, therefore, served the business and social needs of its members while its athletic facilities including a well-equipped gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool provided opportunities for relaxation and recreation. The club building also had about three hundred bedrooms. The Newark Athletic Club was an excellent architectural example of the athletic club-form, a building type that was developed and refined during the first few decades of the 20th century, when numbers of such clubs were built (including the Newark Elk’s Lodge by Lincoln Park). The once substantial membership had dwindled to less than 300 by 1938. In 1943, owing in part, to both the Depression and World War II, the club was in bankruptcy. The club tried to renegotiate with the lien holders, but to no avail. Prudential Insurance, who held the primary mortgage became the owner. The building was converted into use as the Military Park Hotel, later demolished for the construction of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center(NJPAC).