Author with local ties pens book about Wee Wah Beach Club

Tuxedo. The book explores the history of Tuxedo Park and its greater ramifications.

| 14 May 2024 | 03:55

Americans have long had a fascination with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Award winning series such as “Downton Abbey” and the follow up of the “Gilded Age” series recounts lives of those at the top of society in Victorian England and the United States in the late 1800s and into the 20th century.

In America during this time, the aristocracy attempted to continue the ways of English society. It was reflected in places such as Newport, Palm Beach, and Southampton. For many, these are now places to visit, drive through or even tour some of the mansions built for a privileged class.

There is one place, unlike the remaining mansions on 5th Avenue off Central Park, where mansions built during the Gilded Age survive as private residences today. However, unless invited, one cannot get through the fortress like entrance gates of this community.

This is Tuxedo Park.

Pierre Lorillard IV, of the tobacco family, created a community in 1885 located 38 miles outside of New York City as a form of a private club. This exclusive community is where the men’s formal wear known as a tuxedo got its name. It is a place built by Italian and Slovak immigrants, serviced by the common folk from outside the gates and staffed by Irish cooks and maids, English butlers, and Scottish gardeners inside the gates on the estates.

In his new book “The Wee Wah Beach Club in Tuxedo Park: An American Story of Social Change,” author Stuart J. McGregor, takes us on a journey inside the gates, beginning with the creation of this place through to present day. It is a place where the social stratification of America can be seen as a microcosm of what’s happening today and the social changes that have taken place over the last 130 years.

It is very much a story of America seen through the eyes of someone who grew up inside the gates, and who observed the changes taking place. While the place divided the so-called have and have nots, the Wee Wah Beach Club was a private place for those who originally serviced, built and worked inside Tuxedo Park. It was created so they too could enjoy the benefits of a club that would provide recreation and relaxation for those less fortunate.

The book says, although our society has grown and changed, in many ways it continues to remain the same.

About the author

Stuart J. McGregor, born 1944 in Tuxedo Park, has had a lifelong adoration for Tuxedo as well as Tuxedo Park. Both maternal and paternal grandparents lived in Tuxedo Park where both grandfathers were superintendents and head gardeners of estates from the early 1900s that lasted well into the 1950s. He spent his early years living above a garage on the Kincraig estate. He graduated from Boston College and began a career on Wall Street. After military service in the late 1960s, he returned to Wall Street and also received a law degree from Fordham Law School. McGregor and his wife, Jean Connelly, moved to Miami in 1976 where they raised a family and he successfully practiced trial law for over 25 years.

In 1998, he left the practice of law and worked in investor relations before starting up a sports related business. Approaching his 80th year, he now resides in Coral Gables, Fl., and owns an 1889 coachman’s house in Tuxedo Park.

He has self-published several books, such as “England & Scotland: A Journey Back,” “Maine & Nova Scotia,” “Newport: A Return to the Gilded Age,” “A History of Kincraig and Family Recollections of a Time Gone By,” “Tuxedo Park Past-Law and Disorder,” “St. Peter’s Prep Basketball 1958-1962,” and “My Journey.”

His latest book, “The Wee Wah Beach Club in Tuxedo Park: An American Story of Social Change,” can be purchased through Amazon.