SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- After years of debate about its future, the Shady Rest Clubhouse at Scotch Hills Golf Course reopened to the Scotch Plains Golden Agers and other groups on Friday, Oct. 9.
Among the attendees (pictured) at the ribbon-cutting event were David Bierman, president of the Scotch Plains Historical Society, Nina and Tom Donatelli, Dr. James Checchio, Judy and Pete Terry, Thurman Simmons, Mayor Kevin Glover, Township Manager Al Mirabella, Councilwoman Rose Checchio, Steve Steinbergher, Charles Green, and Sylvia Hicks.
The clubhouse, originally a farm house built before the American Revolution, has fallen into disrepair during the past decade. In 2013, the Scotch Plains Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance appropriating $138,163 for the “Undertaking of Professional Studies of and Various Repairs and Improvements to the Scotch Hills Golf Clubhouse."
During that meeting, the late former Mayor Mauro Checchio spoke of how the property needed to be “treated with reverence” and informed the council that when he was mayor in the 50s and 60s there was a conscious move to preserve it. “You have a jewel here,” he said.
In August 2014, architect Barton Ross made a presentation at a Council meeting to update on the extent of damages caused by a leaky roof and severe weather during the past few winters.
In his remarks on Friday, Mayor Kevin Glover credited Mauro Checchio, who passed away earlier this year, with educating him about the rich history of the Shady Rest and said that on his deathbed the former mayor told him, "Don't quit on this."
"A promise made is a promise kept," Glover proudly exclaimed.
"I'm overjoyed," said Sylvia Hicks, a leader in the effort to preserve the Shady Rest. "With all the political opposition, I never thought I'd see a new roof. There are no more patches or band aids."
Hicks looks forward to bringing important memorabilia, including John Shippen's trophies and golf clubs back to the building. They are currently in the possession of the PGA, which will give the treasures back to Scotch Plains, where they will be permanently on display. Hicks also looks forward to hosting jazz nights and other music programs at the Shady Rest in a nod to the building's rich heritage.
"We are standing on a foundation of history that cannot be replaced," said Hicks.
The Shady Rest was America's first black-owned golf course and was also a popular social club for some of the biggest entertainers of the Jazz Age, including Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. For many years was the home of John Shippen, America's first golf pro.
To learn more about the history of the Shady Rest, click here.