History Here and Now June 19, 2009

Depression ends halcyon days of the Redlands country club

First in a two-part series.

The new Grand Junction Country Club opened on Thursday, Aug. 18, 1921. Festivities began at 7:30 p.m. Membership initially was limited to 50 Grand Junction business and professional men, each paying $300 to build the $15,000 clubhouse.

By 1925 the club had expanded to 62 resident members as well as four non-residents.

The clubhouse was built on the Redlands just west of the city. Members purchased 5 acres from the Redlands Company, and they planted trees and gardens surrounding the clubhouse. The style was Spanish, with basement walls of granite stone below an arched main story of stucco with tile roofing.

The first housewarming party was a “notable one in the city’s social history,” according to a Daily Sentinel article on Aug. 19, 1921. Massive granite fireplaces at either end of the large club room with its polished wood floors were decorated with wicker baskets full of golden glow and marigolds, offset by orange candles. Four wicker tables used to serve guests were decorated with pink candles and glass baskets of white and pink sweet pea blooms.

The clubhouse had a long screened porch along the front of the building that could be closed in with glass in the winter, making the main hall larger. In the cool granite men’s smoking room downstairs, the fireplace was decorated with brass jardinières of red dahlias.

The families made up 119 guests and they enjoyed card games and dancing to Terry’s Orchestra.

The club leased 160 acres immediately west of the structure for a golf course. Water shares were available only below the ditches. This put most of the golf course uphill and in the dirt since the irrigation ditch was just a short distance behind the clubhouse. With the exception of the first and second holes, which were immediately west of the clubhouse, the rest of the course was above the ditch.

Members cleared sagebrush, greasewood and cactus, then graded the course, which sported nine holes but only about 2,000 yards. The flattened area was about 450 yards long north and south, and about 100 yards wide east and west. The fourth and seventh holes were across a deep gulch.

Oiled sand provided at each hole was used in place of grass and then raked and leveled by either caddies or golfers. Water cans were also at each hole so the golfer could mix it with some sand to make a sand tee.

The greens were all flat circles with the flag in the center. The flags looked like long polo mallets, which served a double function of smoothing a path for putting. There were only three areas where balls might go out of bounds — into the orchard directly west of the course, over the fence behind No. 7 where a ball could fly down onto the road to No Thoroughfare Canyon, and hitting over the fence on No. 8 to the east.

Between 1926 and 1930, members held a yearly golf tournament. In 1926 E.F. Woods, who was a partner with C.D. Smith, won the tournament. In 1927 City Council member and local businessman Frank Hall won. A.T. Gormley won in 1928, Woods again in 1929, and in 1930, the last year played, Gormley won.

By this time and into the mid-1930s, the Depression was making an impact on the Grand Junction Country Club. Mortgage payments, taxes, water and building maintenance, including live-in caretakers, overwhelmed the members. During this time the Redlands Women’s Club, which had started in 1920, was looking for a larger space.

Charles Rump, who was general manager of the Redlands Company and the Public Service Company, was a member of the Grand Junction Country Club. He proposed the idea to sell the country club to the Redlands Women’s Club.

Thanks to Pat Gormley, the late Ila May Keithley, the Lloyd Files Research Library, The Daily Sentinel and the Fruita Times for their contributions with research.

Eileen O’Toole is a third-generation Redlands resident who is the Redlands representative for the Mesa County Historical Society.

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