The Newark Athletic Club 1919-1943

NAC.jpg  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).



13 thoughts on “The Newark Athletic Club 1919-1943

  1. The Newark Athletic Club continued to operate a fully equipped pool with exercise facilities until at least 1954
    Mickey Voight was the nationally recognized swim coach.


    1. Bill,
      I would appreciate any information you might be able to provide on the activities of the club after 1943. I will update my post accordingly.
      Thank you,
      John Lipari


  2. My grandfather worked for a contracting company in Newark, and I found an old 10th annual Newark Athletic Club All Sports Award Dinner picture from Jan 19 1950. Please reach out if you’d like one of the prints.


  3. My great-grandfather, Jay Reid Sr., was the first president of the Newark Athletic Club, and he was there for the opening with General Pershing. His son, Jay Reid Jr., was a White House reporter for the New York Herald Tribune in the mid-1940s. Jay Jr. stayed at the NAC on numerous trips back to Newark during that period, and we have old telegrams that were sent to him there. At least on the telegrams, it was still called the NAC. Anyway, I am interested in learning more about the history of the club club – are there any sources you would recommend I consult beyond Proquest?


  4. I have a photograph of a team that was from 1913-14 in Newark, the emblem on the chest is a stylized capital H their op looks white and the bottom uniform is dark but all looks one piece any ideas?


  5. I found an undated obituary of my grandfather’s (Otto Harry Oppenheimer) death. The obituary stated that my grandfather was a charter member of the Newark Athletic Club and Roseville Athletic Club. Would you have any information that may list my grandfather as a member?


      1. I’ve included a transcript of my grandfather’s obituary that mentions the Newark Athletic Club among other interests. The obituary text follows:

        Funeral of Otto H. Oppenheimer
        Funeral services for Otto H. Oppenheimer, who died yesterday at his summer home, 423 Lincoln Avenue, Avon, will be held at the house Friday at one. In charge of Dr. Henry Rose, pastor of the Church of Redeemer, Newark, a former pastor of the family. He is survived by a wife, a daughter, Mrs. Helen French of Jersey City: two sons Everett and Otto H. Jr.: one sister Mrs. S. Rice of New York and three brothers, Eugene, Paul, and Zachary also of New York. The deceased was a charter member of the Newark Athletic Club, the Roseville Athletic Club a director in the Broad and Market Street Bank, Newark and owner the Kendal Fruit Company, Kendal Fla., about 12 miles from Miami, of late years his permanent home. Interment will be made in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Newark by Undertaker Sexton.

        Thank you for your help.
        Pete Oppenheimer, Atlanta, Georgia


      2. Pete,
        I looked in the 1914 Newark Directory. There is an Otto H. Oppenheimer Co. listed as leather manufacturers. His home was in NYC.
        The Church of the Redeemer was a Unitarian Church located on the corner of Broad Street and Hill Street opposite City Hall. It was a grand Romanesque style building. There’s an apartment House there now.
        I will continue my search.


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