End of an Era: Eastern Hills Country Club Closes

Eastern Hills Country ClubEastern Hills Country Club served as many things to many people. To some it was a golfing venue, to others a place to celebrate special occasions. It has served as a meeting place for local service clubs such as Rotary, Noon Exchange, Altrusa, Kiwanis, etc.. Others of us used it as a kind of refuge where we could enjoy good food and great service in a warm, unpretentious environment. It was a great place for kids and many family albums contain photos of Easter Egg Hunts and Breakfasts with Santa.

Generations have celebrated weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and events of all sorts inside what was, for some of us, our community center. The swimming pool, tennis courts and what we females referred to as “the geezers’ cave”, a card room and bar, were all segments of the club that served members and non-members in so many ways.

For those whose homes surround the golf course, the existence of the club offered an open view of manicured rolling hills– a gentle, private and peaceful panorama.

Eastern Hills Country ClubThere is a chance that the view of a golf course could become the view of a huge construction site. For some that appears to be a foregone conclusion.

During a recent visit to Garland Camera & Repair, we discussed the sad demise of the club with Kent Richeson, who literally grew up at the club and remembers when Mickey Mantle played golf there. As a teenager, he said the pool would be packed and you had to arrive early to stake out a pool side spot to place your towel. He and his father are now playing at Firewheel and believe that the Bridges course there is great, but it just can’t replace their club, which was padlocked at Christmas time, and the decorated Christmas trees still stand sadly in the now dark and musty corners of its banquet rooms.

We have several friends whose fathers were among the founding members of EHCC back in 1955. John and David Baker remember signing their dad’s #11 for club charges as they were growing up. Sally Jackson Hammond recalls the day her father announced that he had purchased a membership in a country club. This was upsetting to her mother who didn’t believe their budget could support such extravagance! It was local family men like F.K. Baker and Winn Jackson who founded the Eastern Hills Country Club nearly sixty years ago.

Eastern Hills Country ClubThe bankruptcy court will hear the case on April 15 and the new owner of the approximately 180-acre Eastern Hills Country Club property will be named. It will then be up to the City of Garland to approve a zoning variance and issue the permits necessary for new construction. At this time the high bidder has it under contract for $3.8M, but it is still possible for the court to accept a higher bid.

According to Rubin Real Estate, the amount of debt owed by the club is $2.5M and rising daily. The 52 or 53 equity members will divide $500K, and as Charlie Freeman said, “It won’t change anyone’s lifestyle, but it’s better than a kick in the head”.

At the end of the day, when all debts have been satisfied, the money remaining will revert to J.D. Harvey, former owner of the club.
The club’s founders originally purchased the property in 1955 and since then a community has developed surrounding Eastern Hills Country Club. Those residents are now concerned about declining property values as rumors of hundreds of homes being constructed on the property are being spread. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but in the words of Candace Rubin, “Money trumps everything.”