Towards the end of of the 19th century, Colonel Elliot Fitch Shepard,
an attorney and founder of the New York State Bar Association, purchased
338 acres high above the Hudson River north of Tarrytown. Shepards
wife Margaret was the daughter of William H. Vanderbilt and a grand-daughter
of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built the New York Central Railroad in the
first half of the century.
The Shepards engaged Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White to design
their manor house. White, one of Americas most noted architects,
responded with a 75-room structure in the Italian Villa style popular
in the late 19th century. It featured elegant formal rooms, including
a ballroom, a graceful curving stairway highlighted by a Tiffany stained-glass
window, high patterned ceilings, elaborate cornice work and hand-carved
wood paneling. The landscape featured sunken, formal gardens that enhanced
the panoramic view of the Hudson Valley. Ten stately columns on the grill
terrace are the vestiges of the landscaping of that area.
Colonel Shepard did not live to see the construction finished. His widow
Margaret and her family occupied the estate until 1910 when she sold it
to Willaim Rockefeller and Franklin Vanderlip. They, in turn, invited
a group of men to form the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in 1911. In addition
to Rockefeller and Vanderlip, the founders included Percy Rockefeller,
Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Jacob Astor, Oliver Harriman, V. Everit Macy,
A.O. Choate and James Colgate.
To build their golf course, the founders turned to Charles Blair Mac-donald,
the preeminent golf course architect of the time. After an initial conflict
with William Rockefeller about preserving the trees was resolved, Macdonald
and his engineer, Seth Raynor, built the course during the extremely hot
summer of 1911. At the end of the 1920s, A.W. Tillinghast, another
legendary golf architect, expanded the facilities to 27 holes and in the
process created the 8th through the 12th holes of the Upper Course and
several holes of the Lower Course.
Sleepy Hollow underwent extensive changes in the 1960s when the
members voted to move golf activities from another building on the property
and build a new wing at the northern end of the Vanderbilt clubhouse.
The clubhouse addition which included locker rooms, a grillroom and a
pro shop, was finished in 1962 and was recent-ly renovated.
In addition to golf, the clubs current amenities include ten tennis
courts, two swimming pools, three squash courts, four platform tennis
courts, a 40-horse stable from the Vanderbilt era, two indoor riding arenas
and shooting facilities for skeet and trap.