Neighborhood Club - Serving the Grosse Pointe Area Since 1911
The Neighborhood Club is a non-profit community service organization providing a
professionally organized program of recreation and wellness services for families and individuals of all ages. The Neighborhood Club is a leader in developing cooperative, coordinated plans and programs with other public, private and voluntary agencies that provide recreation and wellness services.
Activities are conducted in the Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center, as well as GPPSS gymnasiums and fields throughout the Grosse Pointe area. The Neighborhood Club does not have a residency requirement. Everyone is welcome!
Reasonable participation fees are assessed according to the service priority determined by the Board of Trustees. Programs are subsidized by proceeds from the Neighborhood Club Thrift Shop and by contributions from the community. It is only with support of our many friends that the Neighborhood Club has been able to grow and serve the ever-changing and diverse needs of area residents. With 80 percent of operating costs coming from program fees, it is crucial that we raise the additional funds necessary to provide quality programming. We are grateful to all who have contributed to the Neighborhood Club either financially or by volunteering their time and talents to help operate a program.
Thank you for your interest in the Neighborhood Club. We hope you share our enthusiasm for the community and be a part of our organization for many years to come.
The Neighborhood Club's Legacy
1910's- The Neighborhood Club was founded in Grosse Pointe, Michigan to meet the recreational, educational, and social service needs of area families. The club's first meeting was held on January 14, 1911, when a board of 24 women, many of whom owned summer homes in Grosse Pointe, elected Mrs. Russell A. Alger, Sr. as president. The women's mission was to address social problems in the fields of health, welfare and recreation. The original club operated out of a home on Rivard Boulevard, and then moved to a clubhouse on Oak Street (now Muir Road) where the Pointe's first gymnasium was constructed. The Neighborhood Club cosponsored Grosse Pointe's first public library in 1915 and helped to organize Grosse Pointe's first hospital in 1917. George Elworthy was chosen as executive director in 1919, a job he held until 1962.
1920's- The Neighborhood Club helped to construct Cottage Hospital. Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. donated an eight-acre site on Waterloo between St. Clair and Neff to the club, and a new community center and gymnasium were built at 17145 Waterloo after a successful $150,000 fund raising drive. A rummage sale, instigated by Mrs. Alger, took place in the gymnasium in 1929. The sale gave birth to the Thrift Shop, still in operation today. This second Neighborhood Club building was across the street from the present facility located on Waterloo in the City of Grosse Pointe. Today there is a tot lot and tennis courts where the building once stood.
1930's- During the depression, the Neighborhood Club was the public welfare center for the area. The club administered federal and county emergency relief act programs, and the personal concern that has been a tradition of the club helped many families during those hard times. In the 30's, the recreation program enjoyed great popularity, and the Detroit Lions used the club football field for practice. Elworthy said the Neighborhood Club assisted with community needs during the trying decade.
1940's- The first Metropolitan Club was held on the playfield, two paddle tennis courts were built, and Rotary Keeno parties attracted thousands of participants. World War II forced the club to respond again to changing community needs. The club continued to serve as a public welfare office, volunteered to serve as Civil Defense Headquarters, and became a U.S.O. center. Over 3,000 service men were served breakfast by club volunteers before being sent overseas.
1950's- The Neighborhood Club grew into a strong recreation center and its gym was used by high schools for their basketball and football programs. Tennis boomed and Grosse Pointe became known as a premier junior development program. Athletic fields were used every available minute. In 1962, Elworthy retired as Executive Director after 42 years of service and was named Rotary's Citizen of the Year. Edgar Krattli, who served the organization until 1971, replaced him.
1960's- The Neighborhood Club building, in operation since 1929, was closed on June 17, 1963. In 1965, The Helen Newberry Joy Fund purchased the Neighborhood Club property and gave it to the Grosse Pointe Board of Education. The old community center was deemed unsafe and demolished in 1966. The club continued to operate and grow its programs using schools, churches, and the Grosse Pointe War Memorial as activity sites. The club used funds from the sale and $50,000 in donations to build a 13,500 square-foot center at 17150 Waterloo in 1968. Teen activities were a major component of club programs. The club emphasized drug education and family counseling in cooperation with the Family Life Education Council (F.L.E.C.).
1970's- The 1970’s was a period of extensive growth. John Bruce was named Executive Director in 1971. Pauline Masak retired as Recreation Director in 1973 after 39 years of unexcelled service. Betz Johnson became Recreation Director in 1973. By 1975, the club's activities and membership had more the doubled, and by the end of 1977, the Neighborhood Club had grown from 1,900 members in 1971 to 6,200 members. In October 1977, 150 senior adults celebrated the first anniversary of the Village Club. A barrier free addition was added to the community center on Waterloo in 1979. After 50 years of receiving Community Union, Red Feather and United Foundation funds, the club became totally self-sustaining. Consequent with the halting of governmental and non-profit funds, the organization shifted away from providing welfare services to offering recreation and athletic programs. The Annual Fund was started and generated $20,396 in its first year. The Neighborhood Club raised $550,000 with its first capital campaign in 1979.
1980's- The Annual Fund more than tripled to the amount of $73,401. Neighborhood Club staff, Trustees, and area families came together to celebrate the club's 75th anniversary. The Bodman Computer Center was constructed inside the Neighborhood Club in 1987 with the help of the Matilda R. Wilson Fund and in memory of Henry T. Bodman. The Neighborhood Club took a leadership role in establishing and managing the Grosse Pointe Field Use Committee. Members of this committee represent various community groups that share public facilities. The committee ensures safe, high-quality playing fields for participants. Program attendance flourished with 17,000 participants.
1990's- The Neighborhood Club's focus this decade was to be the premier provider of recreational programs to area families, and to secure long-term financial stability for the organization. The number of programs increased from 20 in the 1970’s to more than 80 in the 1990’s. Growth occurred in almost every activity. Women and girls represented almost 50 percent of participation, largely due to the efforts of Recreation Director Betz Johnson. The club organized approximately 600 teams with 7,500 players, and scheduled more than 3,000 games, classes, and clinics each year. The Annual Fund celebrated a record $137,000 year. The club completed a successful effort to raise $100,000 for the Van Dusen Endowment Challenge Grant, brining the club's total endowment to $1,278,000. The operating budget grew to $1,200,000. The Neighborhood Club continued to cooperate with the Grosse Pointe Public School System and local governments in using their facilities to provide healthy activities for families.
2000's- The story of the Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center began in the early 2000’s, when the community’s Recreation Master Plan and Neighborhood Club Strategic Plan were developed to address community need. Between 2003 and 2008, discussions were held with the City of Grosse Pointe and local healthcare organizations to enhance community services, and the Neighborhood Club received significant planned gifts for future growth. In 2009, the Neighborhood Club Board of Trustees unanimously voted to collaborate with Beaumont Health to provide high quality recreation and wellness options for people of all ages and abilities. Planning began on the design of what ultimately became a $10.6 million recreation and wellness center project at the Neighborhood Club. Arrangements were made with the City to address the parking needs of the facility, and the Neighborhood Club kicked-off a $4 million capital campaign for the project.
2010's- After nearly 40 years of service, John Bruce retires as Executive Director in 2011. Stu Alderman is hired as Executive Director. The old facility was demolished in September 2011, and after just 16 months, the new Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center opened to the public under budget and ahead of schedule on January 7, 2013. In addition to the new facility appealing to an even wider segment of the community, the Neighborhood Club continued offering all the recreation programs it always had throughout the community and to operate its Preschool and Thrift Shop. With their new warm-water pool, fitness complex, gymnasium, and conference rooms, the Neighborhood Club was able to add expanded fitness class offerings, personal training, swim lessons, water aerobics, open swim and open gym time, birthday party packages and conference room rentals. In addition, Beaumont Health began leasing 25% of the facility to provide adult physical therapy and services to children and adolescents with learning and developmental concerns. The Neighborhood Club’s operating budget grew to $2.5 million. After successfully completing the $4 million building campaign, the Neighborhood Club continues to raise support through the Annual Fund and Thrift Shop revenue to supplement program and membership fees.
With courage and vision, only 24 pioneering women initiated the Neighborhood Club at the beginning of the 20th century. Their avid commitment parallels how the men and women of the current organization work for the community today. In the advent of the 21st century, the hard work of staff, the generosity of community members, and particularly the efforts of the Board of Trustees have helped the club have an impact, one that will surely continue to blossom in future years.
The original Neighborhood Club, circa 1913, was in a former home located on Oak street (present day Muir Road in Grosse Pointe Farms). The house still exists on Muir Road.
The second Neighborhood Club building was across the street from the present facility located on Waterloo in the City of Grosse Pointe.
Former Neighborhood Club Building
Current Neighborhood Club Building