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Fordham University finds its way to Country Club waterfront parcel

Fordham U’s crew team headed for CC

The faded sign of the Westchester Country Club still hangs on the roof of building.
Bronx Times
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A waterfront parcel in Country Club is being purchased by an anonymous group that intends to gift it to a Bronx university.

The property at 3341 Country Club Road, next door to the Villa Maria Academy, overlooks Palmer Inlet and is a little less than one and a quarter acres.

The property was used as a private membership beach club known as Westchester Country Club from the 1930s until around 2012, that the surrounding homeowners used to host holiday gatherings, family functions and waterfront activities.

An attempt to breathe fresh life into the club’s shrinking membership was thwarted when its plan to build an in-ground pool on the property was opposed by its neighbors several decades ago.

The club was one of the Eastchester Bay Intraclub members that occassionally hosted the August event.

The property had a pier and dock that was used to launch small boats into Eastchester Bay.

That pier, according to historical maps acquired from Tom Casey of the East Bronx Historical Society, was part of the neighborhood’s namesake, the Country Club at Westchester, which many also refer to as the Westchester Country Club, no affiliation with the club in Rye, NY.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy damaged the pier and a portion of the 3341 building, rendering it unusable.

Lacking the proper insurance coverage to restore the property the club ceased operations, according to some Country Club residents and former club members.

On Tuesday, June 5, Fordham University confirmed to the Bronx Times its plans to occupy the Country Club Road property.

The university plans to utilize the facility for its sailing and crew programs, according to Bob Howe, the assistant vice president for Communications at Fordham.

Howe stated an anonymous group of donors offered to purchase the facility, renovate it and then gift it to the university.

“The site is an ideal training area for our students,” said Howe in the statement.

“Fordham is looking forward to the benefits the property will bring to our student athletes.”

“We are deeply grateful to the generous donors who will make it available to the university,” he continued.

The Fordham men’s crew team has had its share of success since it’s post-war, 1957 return as one of the university’s clubs.

In the last 24 years, the club went undefeated for 10 seasons and captured 16 collegiate national championships.

As the sport and the team gained popularity through the 1990s and 2000s, a community boathouse, located on the Harlem River at Swindler Cove Park, was built to co-house their program with other NYC crew teams.

Presently, the Eastchester Bay is the main site for the university’s sailing team, which has its main venue at the Morris Yacht & Beach Club on City Island.

The university plans to use the Westchester Country Club property for their exisiting Eastchester Bay programming, as well.

While it is unclear how much the lot was purchased for, the Country Club community has been anxious to learn more about its new neighbors.

The original club, Country Club of Westchester, built in the 19th century was a full-service facility for its members, who lived on the property seasonally, and would participate in recreational activities like polo, golf, tennis and boating.

The original clubhouse burned down in 1922.

By that time however, the club’s grounds, which had its northernmost boundary at present day Country Club Road, had already begun to be divided into building lots.

As the urbanization of the east Bronx sped up due to the construction of the IRT #6 train line the club accelerated the sale of its grounds.

Some of the community’s street names are a reminder of the former club, like Country Club Road and Polo Place.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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