MANSFIELD, Ohio – Nestled on Andover Road within the boundaries of the Woodland neighborhood, a club of the same name continues a storied history in Mansfield.
The Woodland Club was first established in Mansfield in the early 1930s, primarily as a tennis club. Since then, the club has expanded to include a competition-size pool, a wading pool for little ones and plenty of lounge chairs for hot summer days.
“It’s a great environment to come hang out, and you don’t even know it’s here really,” said Brad Gray, secretary of the Woodland Club board.
Since the club’s construction on Andover Road in 1948, the basic design has remained relatively unchanged while a number of improvements were added to accommodate family activities. A growing interest in tennis starting in the 1950s led to the construction of Mansfield’s only clay tennis court.
“There used to be citywide tournaments in tennis, they would draw thousands of people parked up and down the streets watching the games,” said Gray. “I understand there’s a pretty intense Thursday night men’s tennis league, there’s a lot of competition over there on the clay courts.”
The Woodland Club’s pool was built not only for family relaxation, but also to hold competitive meets within the Greater Mansfield Aquatic Conference (GMAC). The GMAC still exists today, with the Woodland Eels hosting a number of swimming and diving competitions over the summer.
“If the kids are on the swim team that’s always fun for them,” said Gray. “What you mostly find are families coming up here to swim; it’s typically not very crowded, especially late in the summer and in the evening you can come up here and you might be the only family. Saturdays are really packed, it’s very fun and very social and all the members are really outgoing.”
The club’s social atmosphere is most evident on opening day, traditionally on Memorial Day when families gather for a community barbecue. The Woodland Club is typically open from noon until 7 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
This year, Gray hopes to welcome a host of new members to the Woodland Club; currently the club has approximately 100 families plus around two-dozen single memberships and a handful of tennis memberships. In its heyday, Gray said the club could host around 250 family memberships.
“I think what we’re dealing with right now is just family dynamics changing, not only in the neighborhood but there are so many competing interests,” he said. “Kids have sports, families have commitments. It isn’t all financial, it seems like it’s more time.”
Not only do families have more on their plate, but also Gray hopes to dispel the Woodland Club’s perception of exclusivity. He stressed that everyone is welcome at the Woodland Club, and members are not required to live in the Woodland neighborhood.
“If I have new members they’ll often ask when their application will be accepted, and I always tell them no, you’re accepted now, I just approved you,” said Gray. “That’s one thing we want to make sure people understand, we think outside of these borders there are other neighborhoods that might benefit.”
Single person memberships to the Woodland Club are available for $225 per season, and family memberships are available for $450 per season. A four-year member himself, Gray touted the benefits of having family recreation time already paid for, as well as the sense of community the Woodland Club instills.
“To be a member here you get involved just by default, someone will always include you,” he said. “You really get a sense of the neighborhood, we’re open to anybody but when you live here your kids can walk here or it’s a quick drive up. There are friendships you make here that last the entire year.”