Following the success of the Broadmoor Country Club, the first Jewish country club in Indianapolis (1921), members of the Jewish community established the Westchester Country Club in July 1954. Both country clubs emerged as a result of the Jewish community’s exclusion from existing Indianapolis country clubs.

A news clipping that features an illustration of a country club. The headline reads "Modern Building, pool will be features of $350,000 Westchester Country Club."
Drawing of the Westchester Country Club house, 1954 Credit: IndyStar View Source

Club founders selected a 160-acre tract of wooded land at the northeast corner of what was then Indiana State Road 100 (86th Street) and Township Line Road as the potential site of the new club and recreational facility.

As a cooperative, nonprofit equity club, each member joined as an individual stakeholder and partial owner. Construction costs were financed through $1,000, stockholder club memberships limited to 325 Jewish families and 50 single Jewish men or women. Shares in the club were issued from September 1, 1954, through March 15, 1955. The proceeds of the stock sale went toward the construction of a proposed $350,000 facility. Local architect Howard H. Wolner designed a clubhouse, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a bathhouse, a 480-person dining room, a cocktail lounge, tennis courts, two children’s wading pools, playgrounds, a locker room, a party room, meeting rooms, a vast parking lot, an artificial lake for fishing, and a golf course. F. A. Wilhelm Construction Company built the clubhouse and facilities.

A news clipping shows four women looking at a poster for a dance. The headline reads "Hadassah sets dance for Saturday."
Women plan for a Yom Kippur night dance at the Westchester Country Club, 1957 Credit: IndyStar View Source

Construction of the club commenced on October 17, 1954. The club officially opened on July 3, 1955, and its T-shaped Olympic-sized pool opened to members on August 7. Construction and maintenance costs put the construction of the golf course on indefinite hold.

Despite the club’s role as one of only two Jewish country clubs in Indianapolis, membership began to decline not long into the club’s existence. In early 1960, Westchester’s membership dwindled from its peak of 375 members to roughly 80 members.

To spur membership, the club eliminated its initiation fee and reduced monthly dues to $18. The monthly rate doubled in the summer months to account for the expense of aquatic activities. Monthly dues provided access to activities such as Tuesday family nights, monthly dances, guest performances, and holiday celebrations.

Despite these efforts to bolster membership, the club’s stakeholders authorized its closure and the subsequent sale of its buildings and property on December 21, 1960. On June 30, 1961, the Indianapolis Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks purchased the bathhouse, clubhouse, swimming pool, parking area, and 16 undeveloped acres. Other interests purchased the remaining land. Shareholders in the club only recouped 15 percent of their initial investment.

Within 2 months the Elks rebranded the former Westchester Country Club as the Elks No. 13 Country Club Lodge. North Willow Mall occupies the land of the long-defunct Westchester Country Club.

Revised November 2023

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