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The History of The Powelton Club

Established 1882
The Powelton Club is a full service private country club. Among its many facilities are golf, tennis, swimming pools and two full service restaurants. The Powelton Club is located in historic nineteenth – century Balmville, a suburban area north of the city of Newburgh in Orange County, New York. The distinctive scenery of picturesquely styled residences is situated on the gentle slope of the Hudson River's western shore with a spectacular view towards the Hudson Highlands. The Powelton Club is the physical and social centerpiece of this community. The 100 acre property faces east on Balmville Road, the original northern route out of the city. The entrance to the club can be found at the southern end of the property. Driving down Balmville Road, you are greeted by our five American red clay tennis courts. The clubhouse is nestled between our golf course and the parking lot.
The property developed slowly beginning with the site of the Powelton House, a resort hotel that had burned in 1870. It gradually took land from the surrounding Powelton Farms as the golf course was expanded. The Powelton Lawn Tennis Club of Newburgh, New York was formally organized on March 29, 1882 by Homer Ramsdell, one of Newburgh’s leading businessmen. In the same year, the United States Lawn Tennis Association was founded and The Powelton Club was among the 33 charter members. The growing club had two tennis courts, a windmill to water the courts and a summerhouse to provide shelter for its guests. By the end of 1882, membership stood at 160 people with a female majority.
In April of 1892, The Powelton Club received its charter and seal of incorporation. The Board of Directors signed a five-year lease with the Ramsdell estate. By provisions of the by- laws, the club would be governed by a board of eleven members elected at an annual meeting. The Board would then elect the executive committee from its members. Following the incorporation, the Board proposed a clubhouse be built to include a dance hall, bowling alley and dressing rooms. Annual dues stood at $10.00 for the men and $5.00 for the women. Baseball, croquet, bicycling and tennis became official activities of the club. Furthermore, Mrs. Ramsdell’s mother-in-law, Maude, designed a five – hole golf course on the property.
In November of 1895, the first handicap tournament was held, only to end in a tie. As the popularity of golf grew, a nine – hole course was created the following year. In 1899, The Powelton Club joined the Metropolitan Golf Association as one of its earliest members. By 1902, eight golf clubs in the area met to form the Hudson River Golf Association. The club had become an active member of the United States Golf Association in 1915. The golf committee secured the services of George Merritt, "a prominent Golf Professional" This was the beginning of having an established golf professional on the property throughout the season.
During World War I, the club closed for a short time. Upon reopening in 1917, the tennis tournament donated 100% of its proceeds to the American Red Cross. Following the war, dues were increased to $75.00 for the men and $50.00 for the women. The remainder of the Ramsdell property was purchased for $32,000.
In 1921, Devereaux Emmet was hired to design a new golf course. The new eighteen – hole course was officially opened in May of 1926. The tennis courts were reconfigured into the five they are now. Resurfacing was done using the brick dust from the Jova Brickworks. Since children were an integral part of the club, it was decided that a state of the art swimming pool be designed. A 30’ by 80’ pool was opened in the spring of 1929, funded by subscription and maintained by the sale of pool tickets.
In November 1929, the membership awoke to discover that the clubhouse had burned to the ground during the night. By August of 1930, the members were celebrating the inauguration of an impressive red brick building with all the modern conveniences. Designed by a nationally known local son, Francis Abreu and constructed by Newburgh contractor, B. Maynard Higginson. During the next thirty years, The Powelton Club grew and matured, earning a reputation as an outstanding facility for golf, tennis and social activities.
On October 16, 1960, the club celebrated a "Retirement from our Indebtedness". Naturally, new projects evolved, necessitating new indebtedness. Construction of Route I-84 mandated changes to the golf course and the watering system required improvements. The Powelton Club celebrated its centennial throughout the year of 1982. The abundance of festivities that year gave tribute to its rich and colorful history. The club started off the new millennium with over 500 members and we continue to grow. The history and traditions of this club are still practiced and celebrated today. The clubhouse remains a proud testament to a very modern membership that has a strong appreciation of its legacy.
In 2022, The Powelton Club celebrated its 140th Anniversary.