Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium Rejected For Landmark Hearing

 For Immediate Release

Contact: Chairman Michael Perlman
Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium Rejected For Landmark Hearing

QUEENS, NY (May 4, 2011) - On May 3, 2011, local to international landmark supporters of the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium were dismayed to receive a form letter from the Landmarks Preservation Commission stating that after "a careful review of the current condition and architectural integrity of the above-referenced property, a senior staff committee of the Landmarks Preservation Commission found that the building does have some historic significance related to cultural and historic events that have taken place at the site and does retain intact architectural features. At this time, however, the property will not be recommended to the full Commission for further consideration as an individual New York City landmark.  The reason not to recommend further consideration is due to the deteriorated state of the building’s architectural features."

On behalf of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair Michael Perlman states "By not calendaring a public hearing for the historic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium on local to international levels, this proves the LPC's dereliction of public duty, and of the architectural & cultural provisions of the Landmarks Law. The Landmarks Law does not reference a site's condition as a means for rejecting a public hearing. Despite, there have been buildings in Manhattan or Brooklyn needing major repairs, which have been calendared, heard, and landmarked, and have been restored or are now undergoing restoration. Some case studies are The Windermere, West Park Presbyterian Church, & Coignet Stone Co" (*LPC reports & press below).

Chairman Michael Perlman launched a grassroots campaign on July 23, 2010 by submitting a Request For Evaluation form with 50 pages of primary sources to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, recommending the Stadium, Clubhouse, grounds, & interiors for NYC Landmark status. Perlman also reached out and met with local politicians. A landmark letter campaign and petition drive to the LPC and elected officials is ongoing.

 On October 7, 2010, Cord Meyer Development's proposal to build condos and demolish the majority of the stadium was rejected by West Side Tennis Club members, after not receiving a 2/3 vote (required by bylaws) to approve a sale. Perlman explained "Disney-esque condos would have torn the heart out of Forest Hills. Mixed-use creative revitalization would yield a greater economic return in the long-run, and may feature tennis matches, concerts, weddings, exhibits, school trips, charity events, music and art festivals, etc. It would abide with its original and proven mission as "America's Tennis Stadium" according to a 1922 ad. It has the potential to be a 21st-century family destination, bring our communities closer together, boost tourism, convey historic pride, educate our children, help local businesses through tough economic times, and be an incentive for newer businesses i.e. on the Austin St corridor." 
The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium embodies firsts in tennis, music, and architectural history. Designed by award-winning architect Kenneth Murchison and built by The Foundation Co, it was the first concrete tennis stadium countrywide, and was the first home to the US Open, Davis Cup, & Wightman Cup. It hosted players such as Bill Tilden, Helen Jacobs, Billie Jean King, Roger Federer, and Arthur Ashe & Althea Gibson who broke the racial color barrier. The Stadium also played cinematic roles, as it featured key scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train. The annual Forest Hills Music Festival and concerts took ground in the late 1950s - late 1990s, featuring The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, The Monkees, The Who, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Simon & Garfunkel, Trini Lopez, Peter, Paul, & Mary, etc.
Rego-Forest Preservation Council will continue advocating for city, state, & federal landmark status to commemorate an icon while opening the door to funding (grants & tax credits) for a restoration and historically-sensitive upgrades (potentially $12 million), exploring an amendment to Transferable Development Rights (TDR), and advocating for creative mixed-use revitalization and seeking benefactors. We hope the West Side Tennis Club will confide in us an ally, and work cooperatively towards a viable future for the historic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which reflects the sentiments and ideals of the greater American public. 


1. Rego-Forest Preservation Council Photoset featuring Stadium, Clubhouse, Memorabilia -  

2. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium: Gallery 1 featuring Joe Shlabotnik/Peter Dutton's photos -  

3. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium: Gallery 2 featuring Joe Shlabotnik/Peter Dutton's photos -

*Case studies of Landmark victories despite ailing infrastructure

1. The Windermere (400-406 W 57th St, NYC), an early apartment house was designated on June 28, 2005:

2. Coignet Stone Company (360 Third Ave, Brooklyn) was designated on June 27, 2006:

3. West Park Presbyterian Church (165 W 86th St, NYC) was designated on Jan 12, 2010: 


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