Major William Kennelly is a former NYAC president and a 1981 Hall of Fame inductee.
Kennelly joined the NYAC in 1906. In addition to being a real estate magnate, Kennelly was also an accomplished trapshooter and handball player.
When the United States entered the First World War, Kennelly quickly answered the call to arms. For his service in the 165th US Infantry, he was awarded the French Legion on Honor.
Upon returning from the war, Kennelly took over his family’s real estate business and became a millionaire many times over. It was often joked around the Club that the only piece of New York real estate that Kennelly had not sold was Central Park.
When Kennelly became president in 1926, the Club was in need of a new home. As the membership rolls swelled to 7,000, it became clear that the old City House, located at Sixth Avenue and 59th Street, could no longer meet the needs of the Club. As a replacement, Kennelly eyed the Spanish Flats: cooperative apartments owned by the Spanish government, and the current location of the Essex House and the NYAC.
Using his experience in real estate, Kennelly guided the purchase of the Spanish Flats and oversaw the construction of the new City House. Construction began in 1927, and by 1929, the NYAC had a new place to call home.
Although the Club’s finances suffered during the 1920s and 30s, the City House still stands strong after almost 90 years; for that reason, NYAC members of the past, present, and future all are indebted to Major Kennelly.
Kennelly died on April 10th, 1970. He was 84 years old.