The New Century Club has faded into historyDec 23, 2014 10:01PM ● By Kerigan Butt
The New Century Club was the site of countless dances and civic events in Newark.
By John Chambless
Since 1917, a lot of history passed through the doors of the New Century Club building. But time caught up with the wood-paneled social hall, and it will soon be replaced by a three-story apartment complex and office building.
The landmark at East Delaware Avenue and Haines Street was the home of a club that stressed civic responsibility for more than 100 years, beginning in 1893 as a women's literary and social group called the Tuesday Club. The name was changed when 1900 ushered in optimism that great things were on the horizon, and the new century seemed limitless. The site was acquired by the club in 1916, and the building was completed and opened in 1917.
The stage has been the site of concerts, dances, speeches and community events. Soldiers from World War 1 and World War II attended dances there. In the 1950s, the building was a community center, and it later held graduations for some area schools. The members of the New Century Club met there until November 2013, when it became clear that the cost of maintaining the building – and performing vital repairs – was becoming too much for the small group to bear. The lower level flooded. Drains around the building needed replacing, there was no sprinkler system, the hall wasn't ADA compliant, the radiators were original, and there was asbestos inside. When an offer came to buy the property for demolition, the decision was made to shed the huge liability.
Most recently, the building has been used by the LifePath Church, whose members cleaned up the lower level and spruced up the interior in exchange for being able to use the site. But the church moved out in September, awaiting the arrival of the bulldozers. Architectural details, doors, beams and flooring from the New Century Club are expected to be salvaged, and the historic marker that stood outside will be incorporated in the new building, according to the developer.
In August, during a walk-through of the New Century Club, the burnished paneling, glass-paneled doors and chandeliers reflected its bygone elegance. While it's not designated as historically significant, the building did echo with the memories of countless couples who swayed to music there, of students who took their triumphant graduation walk, and of citizens who worked hard to make Newark a better place to live.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail [email protected].