December’s chill has not slowed the facelift of the historic Newport Casino. Workers bundled in overalls and jackets, and hoodies and hard hats, have wrapped the steel skeleton of the new indoor tennis facility at the corner of Memorial Drive and Freebody Street and have begun installing the metal roof. The structure replaces a three-court building that opened in 1974.
In addition, another crew, aided by staff of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, has removed every piece of memorabilia except the tail end of Jack Kramer’s barnstorming truck from the Hall of Fame Museum and is preparing to demolish that space. The plan is to rebuild with the latest technological gadgetry, including a holographic theater, interactive experiences and renovated galleries.
Most of the museum is closed, but the Woolard Famiy Enshrinees Gallery up the stairs from the museum entrance, is open from 9:30 to 5 daily. The grounds are also open to the public at no charge.
The museum is scheduled to re-open on May 20, 2015.
The new tennis facility will include three permanent indoor courts and three courts covered by a bubble during winter months. Other buildings in the new complex along Memorial Board will feature locker rooms, a fitness facility and office and retail space. The exterior will be shingled to mimic the Bellevue Avenue façade of the Casino.
Enhancement of stadium seating is also on the drawing board.
This construction is part of a $15-million capital campaign. Groundbreaking was last spring.
The Newport Casino, a National Historic Landmark since 1987 and home of the Tennis Hall of Fame Championships, opened in 1880 and held the first national championship in 1881. The U.S. Nationals were held there every year through 1914, when the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association moved them to New York.