The murder trial of Tommy Gilbert in Manhattan offered a rare look inside the Maidstone Club last week, and its policies, with the testimony of the exclusive country club’s general manager, Ken Koch. Gilbert’s parents had been members of the club since the early 1990s.
“The club began in 1891, the clubhouse in its present location was built in 1925,” Koch told the jury as he was questioned by assistant district attorney Craig Ortner in the Manhattan courtroom of Justice Melissa Jackson. The Maidstone, Koch said, “has 480 regular members, and about 90 Junior Privilege members.” The amenities offered by the Maidstone, Koch said, include “two golf courses, an 18-hole course and a nine-hole course, 19 grass tennis courts, and four Har-Tru clay courts.”
“There is a beach club, dining facilities, and the main clubhouse,” he said, adding that the total floor coverage of the clubhouse is about 47,000 square feet. At over an acre of floor space in the building, the club is likely the largest such commercial structure in East Hampton.
Other amenities include “various dining menus, the tennis clubhouse, which also has a dining menu.” He was asked about the number of employees. “At peak, there are roughly 250 employees, during the off-season about 20,” he answered.
How does one join? “You would be proposed or sponsored by a member,” Koch said. “They would write a letter on behalf of the candidate. Then you have to have three supporting letters from other members, then they would go through a vetting process from the admissions committee, and go through that process and then, you are accepted or not accepted.”
Among those who proposed or sponsored Tom and Shelly Gilbert in 1993 were John Cartier, Beckwith Gilbert, Hank Schwab, Edward Chase, and Anthony Gerard.
Shelly Gilbert has credited her friends at Maidstone with providing her with the emotional foundation that has enabled her to cope with losing, essentially, her husband and her son at the same moment.
Children of members are allowed full use of the Maidstone until they turn 25. Koch explained the different types of memberships at the Maidstone. “There is a senior classification, then there is what we called at that time, junior club privileges and all club privileges. We call it AC and JCP. It is a privilege category that lets members of the club allow their sons and daughters (to be) members.”
The annual dues for full members are over $10,000. Members also pay a non-refundable fee of about $3000 for food. They are expected to use that amount at the various dining rooms, and are then billed for additional usage. There are fees required for the various tennis and golf pros who teach at the facility.
Tommy Gilbert became a JCP member when he turned 25. Dues for a JCP are over $3000. JCP members are also expected to spend $600 in dining room fees. Tom and Shelly Gilbert continued to pay for their son’s membership, as well as his various fees, including sessions with club golf pros, up until he was suspended from the club for an incident he was involved in with a club employee in October of 2013.