The South End Tennis Club's land was originally owned by wealthy New York businessman, John S. MacLean. MacLean was the son of a Scottish immigrant preacher, who was the head of the Bank of Nova Scotia from 1874 until his death in 1889. John S. MacLean lived in the mansion known as Thorndean, which was on Inglis Street. The mansion's grounds extended 92 metres from Inglis Street along Acadia Street (later McLean Street). In 1855, MacLean, purchased Halifax's famous Jerusalem Warehouse, and based his grocery store there. His business imported products from overseas including tea, which he distributed throughout Atlantic Canada.
Established in 1890, the South End Lawn Tennis Club, as it was known then, is one of the oldest tennis clubs in Canada. The club was formed through the efforts of a wealthy businessman and politician, Edward G. Kenny, along with MacCallum Grant, who later became the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The club had five grass courts extending from Acadia Street to the newly-developed Young Avenue. The land on which the club stood was originally leased from John S. MacLean but was later purchased by a group of active members, each of whom contributed a small amount of cash and the rest was paid by mortgage.
Within seven years of opening, the club had 102 members, and by 1902, it had 193, both men and women. From time to time, officers of the Imperial Army and Navy were allowed to play at the Club. It was forbidden to play tennis on Sundays, however, or not until 1929 when the bylaws were amended.
In 1911, the original grass courts were changed to clay, the clubhouse was given electricity in 1952, and two of the courts were sold in 1956 to pay the taxes. In 1969, the courts were changed to Har-tru clay, which they remained until 1977, when they were converted to a hard surface. Today the tennis club is still a popular with tennis players from all over Halifax.