Work began on Monday 20 February 2012 on the restoration of the court tennis facility at the Racquet Club of Chicago.
The original court had opened in October 1924 and was used until sometime in 1936 when the club converted it into a lawn tennis court. Pierre Etchebaster gave an exhibition there in 1931, playing against the club pro Charley Williams. One RCOC member, George Husband, even won the U.S. national amateur title in 1927.
Now, in the last few days, the court is finally on the way to returning to court tennis play for the first time in more than three quarters of a century.
A few details have been generously offered by incoming RCOC president Bill Bickford who is managing the restoration process. The project team includes the contractor, Bramco Construction; the architect isNorthworks Architects and special consultants Ed Hughes, Mike Gooding, Chris Ronaldson and RCOC head professional John Cashman. Expected completion is the first of August.
They have removed selected sections of the lawn tennis carpet to find the original 1923 Bickley floor to be in excellent condition, well preserved for the past seventy-five years. The remaining carpet will remain over the floor during construction for protection.
The perimeter of the Bickley slate is clearly defined, providing the exact dimensions and placement of the original gallery walls and tambour.
The existing masonry walls have been inspected for selective repairs to the brick and plaster work.
They are now in the process of building 8’-0” long mock-up sections of a solid masonry gallery wall (coated in high-density Armourcoat) and an insulated wood-frame penthouse roof for testing.
Chris Ronaldson will be on site on March 7th to meet with John Cashman to test the play levels of the mock-ups.
Upon review and approval, construction of the gallery and penthouse will begin during the month of March.
They are planning to wire the court for multiple cameras, placed in prime viewing locations, to record and broadcast major events.
The pro shop will be making RCOC’s balls—a few test samples are in process. The club will be hiring a dedicated court tennis pro, under the direction of head racquets professional, John Cashman.