The Atkinson-Stern tennis center is one of the oldest tennis venues in the United States. Opened in 1897, it was originally a private club operated by the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club. In 1973 the city of New Orleans acquired and renamed the facility as the Stern Tennis Center in honor of Edgar Stern, a philanthropist who contributed financially to the Center. Stern Tennis Center was expanded later in recognition of Nehemiah Atkinson, manager and talented player of the facility. For two decades, Nehemiah Atkinson coached at the tennis center and inspired many New Orleanians including African-American adults and children to play tennis.
Edgar Bloom Stern was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1886 to Maurice and Hannah Bloom Stern. Maurice Stern was a partner in the firm of Lehman, Stern and Company, whose offices were located at the corner of Baronne and Gravier Streets, but were moved in 1917 to 840-842 Union Street. The family home was located at 5115 Saint Charles Avenue. Edgar Stern lived most of his life in New Orleans with the exception of attending college at Harvard University. Mr. Stern had an active business and civic career, involving himself in a wide range of enterprises, from the arts, to education, to health care, all aimed at enhancing the development of the city. In 1921, he married Edith Rosenwald of Ravinia, Illinois, daughter of Sears, Roebuck & Company magnate Julius Rosenwald; the Sterns were acclaimed as philanthropists. Edgar B. Stern was president of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange in 1927-1928. He became active nationally, receiving appointments to federal commissions and committees; his civic work included involvement at the state and local levels also. Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, a Classical Revival mansion, was their family home. Edgar B. Stern died on August 24, 1959. In the twenty-first century and post-Katrina, Longue Vue, designated a National Historic Landmark, is an internationally recognized historic site that continues to serve as an educational and cultural resource