Front view of the spa
The European Health Spa was in the New York metropolitan area but this was its largest location. The spa opened in 1968 and has had multiple owners throughout the years, including Jack LaLanne and Bally Total Fitness. Bally Total Fitness signed a 10 year lease in 1992 but once they realized the property wasn't a good fit since it was too small, they shut this location down but continued to pay rent while trying to market the property. Dilmaghani had a tenant lined up to fill the space when the Bally lease was up but when the company got the property back and inspected it, they found it was in "seriously deteriorated condition". The guidelines that would have to be met for environmental efforts during renovation would cost somewhere around $100,000 in engineering, architectural, and legal fees.
What made the health spa "european" was its scandinavian ice plunge which was a form of hydrotherapy meant to help ease muscle aches, increase blood flow, and apparently even cure a hangover. Since the spa changed hands multiple times, it cycled between being a health club and spa and a gym and fitness club.
When reading through the comments on an article written about the spa, I noticed that one user by the name of "John Henry" mentioned that he had worked for a company that was installing a sound system when building was first opening and he recalls them having a live tiger in a glass enclosure until they had to remove it. After extensive research I finally found the reports of the health spa's tiger.
According to a 1971 New York Times article, the health spa had kept the 400 pound, 3 year old Siberian tiger named Tuffy in a glass cage until the humane society stepped in. During the summer, Sue Pressman, a zoologist and investigator for The Humane Society visited the health spa to investigate after she had received complaints about a tiger in captivity. Pressman determined the case was too small for this 400 pound tiger and urged management to give the animal up to a more equipped and appropriate facility like a zoo. The club claimed that the animal was healthy and well-cared for so they refused to remove the tiger from the spa. Complaints continued and in the beginning of October the State Attorney General's Office subpoenaed the club officials to discuss the tiger and its living conditions. Rather than answering questions, the club's attorney Henry M. Holzer asked Mrs. Pressman to find Tuffy a suitable home. Mrs. Pressman picked The Brownsville Zoo in Texas as her first choice because they had plenty of space and other tigers for Tuffy to be with.
What remains of this European Health Spa perplexes both residents and visitors. The round fortress surrounded by windows is set behind a giant Atlas statue that has long lost its globe. Dennis Dilmaghani, the president of Mehdi Dilmaghani & Co. Inc, owns the building and has refused to sell it even though there have been multiple offers and he is doing nothing with the property.
Faranda, J. Philip. "Scarsdale, NY: European Health Spa." J. Philip's New York Photo Blog, 4 May 2009, nyphotoblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/scarsdale-ny-european-health-spa/.
Halpern, W. Dyer. "Ask Westchester, September 2012: Abandoned Health Club on Central Avenue in Scarsdale." Westchester Magazine, 22 Aug. 2012,
"Club in Scarsdale Donates Its Tiger To New Texas Zoo." The New York Times, 7 Oct. 1971.
Yasinac, Rob. "European Health Spa." Hudson Valley Ruins, 13 Mar. 2004, www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/yasinsac/ehs/ehs.html.
All photos taken by Sami Fego unless stated otherwise