The Turf Club

Help AP-AMP Preserve the Legendary
TURF CLUB
in Asbury Park, New Jersey

The last remaining structure that housed one of Springwood Avenue’s celebrated music spots, and create a community venue for music and culture.

The Turf Club, c. 1960s
Photo: Joseph A. Carter Sr. (1917-1980)
© Asbury Park: A West Side Story Collection
The Turf Club, May 2019
The Turf Club, August 2020

What’s the Turf Club?

In the 1960s, there were dozens of music venues on the west side of Asbury Park, all along Springwood Avenue. Today, only one structure remains that was once one of these venues: The Turf Club.

The Turf Club originally opened at 1125 Springwood Avenue in 1940 and moved to 1200 Springwood Avenue in 1956, where the building remains today. It represents the last chance to preserve a physical piece of Springwood Avenue’s music history.

Icons such as Billie Holiday and Count Basie as well as local talent performed along Springwood Avenue. It was part of the Chitlin’ Circuit and lined with music venues and African American-owned businesses, many cited in the Green Book. Since the late 1950s, music was a mainstay of the Turf Club, offering local (e.g., Al Griffin, Cliff Johnson, and Dee Holland) and nationally-recognized (e.g., Clarence Clemons, who would later join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band) jazz and R&B acts. In 1970, civil unrest and a period of disinvestment devastated Springwood Avenue.

Historic Preservationist Elizabeth Rosin notes that the Turf Club “…provides a unique physical connection to an important cultural context – the social and entertainment heritage of the local African-American community. Its cultural significance is enhanced by the loss of other buildings that shared its connection to the once-thriving African-American west side commercial district of Asbury Park.”

“The Turf Club … now remains the only reminder of the old glory days of the great music that was once very much alive on Springwood Avenue.”

– Cliff Johnson, extraordinary local musician, born in 1925, who shared with AP-AMP that he performed in every venue on Springwood Avenue

The Turf Club – Preservation Updates

Update: September 2020
Huge thank you to this efficient crew for a speedy record-breaking clean out of the legendary Turf Club!
– Asbury Park Environmental and Shade Tree Commission
– Asbury Park Department of Public Works
– Asbury Park Quality of Life Committee
– Springwood Avenue Rising
– and ALL the volunteers!

Update: September 2020
Come help the Asbury Park African-American Music Project clean out the interior of the historic Turf Club on Saturday, September 26 between 9am and 12pm. Please wear long sleeves, pants and a mask. Tools will be provided.

AP-AMP is working to preserve this important part of AP’s history. It’s a community effort and that means you! Thank you in advance for your time, your passion and your dollars – any amount will help!

Interior of the Turf Club, August 2020
Photo: Conni Freestone

Update: July 2020
AP-AMP is happy to collaborate with Springwood Avenue Rising on a beautiful mural on the Turf Club, painted by Mr. Larry Walker. The artwork, painted on the Springwood Avenue and Atkins Avenue exterior walls, celebrates the music and history of Springwood Avenue.

The Turf Club exterior. Mural by Larry Walker, 2020.