Bradford Bath and Tennis Club was founded in 1958 when two gentlemen, Allen Dumont and Theodore Cox, realized their local golf club had no plans to expand its facilities to include tennis and swimming. They decided to build a private tennis and swim club on an undeveloped portion of the Dumont property overlooking Upper Montclair so that their families and other members could enjoy athletic and social activities together in a relaxed and rustic setting.
With only a dirt road access from Bradford Avenue, the club’s original plan was fairly modest. Workers cleared 11 acres of trees by hand and built the familiar clubhouse as well as an L-shaped pool, a wading pool, and a barbecue area with an unobstructed view of theManhattan skyline. Two tennis courts – Numbers 1 and 2 – were built in their present location. Membership initially comprised 150 families and 15 associates. The Dumont and Cox families (fathers and sons) sat on the Board of Directors and also served as club officers, presiding over a 19-person Board of Governors.
Daily activities at Bradford in the early 1960s were similar to those today. The swim team competed against teams from Montclair Beach Club, Glen Ridge, and other towns. In tennis, Bradford joined 14 other New Jersey clubs in sponsoring twice weekly matches for competitive junior players. In the evenings, families enjoyed meals together over the barbecue.
The club’s amenities continued to improve and grow. The first major improvement was the addition of tennis courts number 3 and 4. Courts 5 and 6 and the stadium stands were finished in 1974, just in time for the club to host a professional tennis tournament, The Perspectus, featuring U.S. Open champion Ilie Nastase. Later that year, Bradford constructed courts 7 and 8 and further enhanced member’s enjoyment of the club by building the beautifully-situated adult pool. The addition of paddle tennis courts followed in 1975.
In 1981, Peter and Molly Cotton, with two partners, purchased Bradford from the founding ownership. Over the next 20 years, Bradford became known for its landscaped beauty, pristine maintenance, and exceptional tennis instruction. In 1985, the Cottons partnered with then Director of Tennis, Kevin McGlynn, and added even greater strength to the tennis program by erecting Air Bradford, a heated bubble over courts 7 and 8, so that men’s, women’s, and junior tennis could continue year-round.
In 2005, the ownership decided to sell Bradford and its property. With preservation in mind, several members of the then existing Board of Governors formed a committee to negotiate a purchase of the club on behalf of the membership. An agreement for the club, with provisions for a potential purchase of the property, was finalized in 2006, and Todd Walter was elected as the first president of the member-owned club.
Today, Bradford’s membership of 350 families work closely together with the professional staff to govern, sustain and advance this unique and much-loved club. Recent, completed projects include a full restoration and rebuild of the main and adult pools and an addition of a multi-purpose sports court. Our members continue to plan for the future with common purpose and a fond collegiality that is a Bradford hallmark.