To the perennial ensigns of suburbia—station wagons, outdoor cooking, power mowers and children—it is time to add the bath and tennis club. In the past five years alone, 1,000 of them have been established in suburban and small-town America, ranging from six-family one-court cooperatives to the lavish facilities shown on these pages. The advantage of the bath and tennis club is that it is a truly family recreation center—more so than adult golf clubs. At the club shown here, in Lake Bluff, on Chicago's North Shore, there is year-round tennis, swimming and squash, and ice skating 10 months a year. The club has a toboggan hill, a hockey rink, a sauna and seven cottages for residents such as Mrs. Telfer MacArthur (above), sister-in-law of Actress Helen Hayes. The cottages rent for $500 a month.
The North Shore club's showcase is its indoor courts, which top international players have called as good as any in the world. The building and two courts cost $500,000, more than one-third of the $1,300,000 spent on the whole club complex. (Smaller clubs have been built for as little as $100,000.) When winter squeezes the members off their nine outdoor courts, club harmony dictates a sign-up schedule that spreads use of the two indoor courts as much as possible. It is not unusual for play to continue after midnight. The switch to indoor swimming is administratively less taxing: the 75-by-25-foot pool (right) is simply covered by an inflatable plastic bubble (cost $8,000). As is true of most bath and tennis clubs, the social life is a sideline to the athletic, and a serious sporting bent means more to the membership committee than social status. Dances are held infrequently and entertainment is simple. Private parties are another matter, and the most lively ones are given by The Bachelors, a name that applies both to the hosts of the gathering at left and to the cottage they occupy.
The bird sanctuary at right, the suburban home of more than 65 species, is a fascinating jungle for two junior members. It was the idea of Ronald Boardman, a partner in E. F. Hutton & Company, who is given credit for the B & T's success. Boardman was so determined to keep it a sports-only club that early plans limited dining and drinking facilities to a snack bar. When a dining room was added, though, Boardman went all out the other way. He brought in a French chef and arranged to have food from Maxim's flown in before pure food laws stopped him. The popularity of tennis challenges the club's other pros. At right, swimming instructor Wally Fort works his swimmers hard to establish a star system that will attract more children—like the young tennis buff above—to his teams. With 330 families, there should be enough kids to go around. One eager member says, "You couldn't get a better buy at the YMCA." Actually, initiation cost is $660, and monthly dues $42 per family.
In 62 uncrowded acres (stylized map at left), the Bath and Tennis Club offers many sports activities to members. The indoor tennis dome, housing two well-lighted courts, is the club's particular pride.