Select Heritage “The Beginning” and History of the Club and Members sections.
In 1921 Howard W. Carter was sitting in his dentist's chair having a tooth drilled, when he conceived the idea that Pasadena should have a University Club. He mentioned to his dentist, "there ought to be enough college men in Pasadena to start a Club." The dentist agreed and Mr. Carter immediately began to talk up the project as he made the rounds on the town. Soon he called a meeting at his home on North Hill Avenue for those who were interested. Among those who attended were Dr. Joseph P. Condit, Herbert L. Hahn, Dr. J. Ross Reed, Dr. Humes Roberts, Dr. Henry H. Shark and H.I. Stewart.
"UNIVERSITY CLUB FOR PASADENA IS NOW IN EXISTENCE"HEADLINED THE STAR NEWS ON APRIL 29, 1922.
Arrangements were made to occupy a portion of the south end of the second story east wing of the Hotel Green, adjacent to the old Santa Fe railroad station. Edgar W. Maybury made the old-fashioned, high ceilinged rooms livable and attractive. The sun room or porch on the south side became an acceptable luncheon spot and a considerable group of members gathered there regularly at noon.
"To begin with, sandwiches were served at noon on round tables like those used in old-fashioned ice cream parlors, with similarly styled metal chairs around them," reminisces Stanley Brown. It was a wonderful thing because it was the first time that persons of similar tastes and education could get together. "The old Hotel Green furniture was in there and we had a pool table," recalled Herb Hahn. "Elsie Cherrison and a man named Carl were the employees who warmed up the Campbell's soups, made the ham sandwiches and cut the apple pies we had for lunch. These lunches, with coffee, cost 50 or 60 cents. We had between 30 and 50 members when we opened up there. The quarters were very satisfactory and the rent was so low as to be laughable. We got no service from the hotel and had to arrange for our own janitor work. The entrance was up a flight of stairs at the south end of the building. Commander Loomis put in a great deal of time at the new Club, acting as sort of unpaid manager."
The formal opening of the Club was celebrated by an evening dinner on July 25, 1922, and the fee was about $1.00 for the generous steak spread. In January 1923, an ambitious program of educational and social events had been arranged; this included smokers, book talks, lectures, dances, musicales and a bridge tournament. The Club momentum was increased by a number of scientist members from Mount Wilson Observatory and Cal Tech and the staff of the Huntington Library.
A markable event in 1923 was the emploment of John Pearman as the Club manager. Mr. Pearman made many important contributions to the Club and was appreciated and admired greatly by the founding members. He brought with him his secretary, Miss Eve Hetherington, who, after Mr. Pearman's loss, became Club manager in May 1927. Miss. Hetherington was, in many ways, for 28 years the rock on which the Club grew and bloomed. Another of the Club's long and faithful employees was dining room hostess Erma E. Pullin, who in 1961 completed thirty years at her post.
Few Clubs have been so fortunate as The University Club to host such individuals as those who have spoken throughout the Club's Past. These speakers include many illustrious men, but perhaps the most famous is Professor Albert Einstein who addressed the Club membership in 1931. Albert was a guest of Dr. Charles E. St. John, the distinguished solar physicist who was in 1932 the President of the Carnegie Institution's Mount Wilson Observatory,
An oil portrait of Dr. St. John, painted by member Seymour Thomas, now hangs in the Club's Library. Mr. Thomas also presented the Club with his fascinating studies of ambassador James Bryce and Dr. George Ellery Hale. These portraits now hang on the Club's upper floor.
Another prominent member and speaker at the University Club was Dr. Albert A. Michelson. Dr. Michelson was the first to measure the speed of light. As well, Dr. Michelson was America 's first Nobel Laureate in science. Throughout his experimentatio years, Dr. Michelson made his headquarters at Cal Tech but lunched regularly at the University Club.
Imagine rubbing elbows at lunch with giants like these.
One of The University Club's members changed the world's concept of the universe. Professor Edwin Hubbell proved, to the satisfaction of leading astronomers, that the whole universe was flying apart; stars and planets flying away from each other at the speed of light. This remarkable man had been trained as a lawyer, however, his first love was astronomy. Herb Hahn, who was chairman of the Program Committee, induced Professor Hubbell, much against his will, to address the Club. The professor was right – he shouldn't have done it – practically nobody understood what he was talking about.
"Crossing the Atlantic on the Hindenberg" was member Wick C. Gans' subject in 1937. Another distinguished speaker for The Club was Dr. Frank B. Jewett, head of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. Dr. Jewett predicted to the members in 1930 that "television was but a scientific toy and it was inconceivable that it would supplant wire communication."
(It takes a big man to make a gigantic error.)
It didn't take long for the Club to outgrow its quarters in the Hotel Green. Jack Pearman, a Club committee member, did the leg work in securing a new home for the Club. The search took 3 years. In 1925 Manager Pearman notified Dr. Carl Thomas that he had been quietly looking around and had located the Club's present site on North Oakland and Ford Place. The building had been the home of Rev. R.L. Richardson and the lot to the north was vacant and could also be bought. The Board of Governors wasted no time in starting negotiations for both. The formal opening of the Club in its new home was on September 23, 1926; by this time, The University Club had tallied 387 members.
Besides equipment for pool, billiards and cards, facilities were also provided for mah-jong, chess, checkers and dominoes. Today, with the majority of members being non-smokers, and applicable laws in the State and City, it seems quaint that a popular form of entertainment of the 20's was to hold "smokers."
Browse through the The Club's Library room and think back to when there was not a single book on the shelves. We are indebted to Dr. St. John for establishing the Library and nursing it along through the years. From the Club's birth, the Library has flourished from the books donated by the members. In addition to these generous donations, over the years, magnificent oil paintings, which now hang in the dining room, entryway and dining alcove area, were donated by member-artists.
While the Club's lunches started off as ham sandwiches and Campbell's soup, the members soon tired of these simplistic meals. A policy of fine quality lunches was soon inaugurated, culminating in the gourmet food served by our fine chefs today. As charter member Stanley Brown put it, "I have never eaten any finer food anywhere than is consistently served at the University Club." That statement is seconded by today's members John (Jack) Bonholtzer, Robert H. (Bob) Martin and Diana Peterson-More.
At the time of the move to North Oakland and Ford Place , "auction bridge" was in vogue and all the card playing members took part in it. Later on, two members who took lessons in the then new "contract bridge" instructed other members, moving from table to table. Having the hands laid out on the table, these members advised the new players how to bid and how to play. "Gin Rummy" and "Calcuttas" also had their period of popularity. The card sharks of yesteryear have become the pool players, and Monday Night Football enthusiasts of today. Completely harmless (and presumably legal) wagering is allowed.
In the 1930's, stag dinners and "other entertainment" came into vogue. The early stag dinners were later replaced by the famed Sports Stag Dinners, where the guests of honor and speakers were the leading coaches and athletes of the west. During the 1950's and 1960's, dinner and baseball game parties became popular, with cocktails and dinner at the Club followed by chartered bus, first to the Coliseum and then to Dodger Stadium. An alternative activity would be cocktails and dinner at the Club, followed by hockey games at the now defunct Forum. So that members would not have to miss the World Series of 1960, the Club arranged for a closed circuit, large screen television. This event attracted a large turnout. (Following that tradition, today, the Club has several large screen LCD televisions on which members have viewed the 2008 Olympics, football, and the historic presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.)
A major step forward in the Club's history was reached in May 1948. Major improvements to the upstairs conference room were completed, along with the elimination of the "view window" in the south wall of the dining room (it looked out on some old garages), and the building of the dining alcove area to look out at the garden (which is now a tranquil courtyard). This was done under the leadership of President Robert M. Lawson, who had been reelected to a second term to enable him to complete the program of improvements started during his first term. The next step in the enlargement of the Club's facilities was the addition of 6,000 square feet in 1967 which included a new lobby, office and clerical area, a new bar and the "ladies powder room." These improvements were made during the term of President Lawrence Frost.
A great day in the Club's history was May 20th, 1972, the Club's fiftieth anniversary. This momentous occasion was celebrated with a Golden Ball. A beautiful and memorable occasion, the entire Clubhouse was transformed into a spring garden; guests entered through a colonnade of Grecian columns. The guests of honor, the thirteen surviving charter members, were introduced to a full house of members and guests by Club President, Charles Rubsamen.
These members included the following,to whom the membership and our Club are deeply indebted:
Stanley K. Brown
John F. Chapman MD
Frank W. Hogdon MD
Alfred H. Joy PhD
A. Hoffman Keese
Harry H. Lehman
Wellslake D. Mores
Andrew Neff PhD.
Judge Kenneth C. Newel
Earl E. Simonds
W. Virgil Spalding
J. Clement Storey
Established in 1921
Originally drafted in 1972 by member and former President Charles W. Rubasmen
Updated in 2009 by member and former Governor Richard Henderson
Originally Drafted by Member and Former President W Rubasmen.
Updated in 2009 by member and former Governor Richard Henderson
For most of the years of the Club's history, the serving of alcoholic beverages was not permitted during luncheon hours. However, after much debate and deliberation in the early 1980's, the Board of Governors decided that the Club would allow alcohol to be served during luncheon hours. The concern that if "demon rum" was served at lunch some members would abuse the privilege proved to be of no consequence.
The issue causing more controversy than drinking at lunch was the question of opening the Club membership to women. During most of the Club's history women were not able to be members or eat in the main dining room. Women could only attend meetings in one of the Club's smaller rooms or to attend social occasions with a member. Over the years the issue of allowing women members was discussed, however, the membership was set in its ways and the rules were not changed. In 1977 two young lawyers took the "bull by the horns" and sponsored for membership Candis Tyson Ipswitch, a young female lawyer whose father and grandfather both belonged to the Club. The application for membership was declined and the Club members voted to maintain the "men only" policy.
In the early eighties, the LCard of Governor's unanimously agreed that the Club had to change its policy, but did so in incremental steps. In George Baffa's year of Presidency (1984-85) the first step was taken, which allowed women to come to the main dining room during luncheon hours as guests of members. This new policy created no problems and the majority of the members felt it was a positive step. Early in John L. ("Jack") Bonholtzer's presidency (1986-87), the Board of Governors voted that it was time to put the issue of allowing women full membership in the Club to a vote of the Club's members. The membership chairman, Gleesan Payne (President 1954-55) and President Bonholtzer both fully supported full membership for women and when the issue was put to the vote of the members, the measure passed overwhelmingly. The local press heard about the decision and the Club received extensive media coverage, newspaper, radio, and television. For weeks, members were interviewed by television news reporters as they arrived for lunch.
Many women now enjoy membership in The University Club and are involved in leadership positions in our activities and operations. Several have served as President of the Board of Governors, including Susan T. House (1993-94), Elaine Gregory (1999-00), Christle Balvin (2004-05), Nancy Shaw (2006-07) and Nancy Corrigan (2007-08); and M. Helen Baatz (2009-2010) and presently Gloria Pitzer (2010-2011). Candis Tyson Ipswitch was in the first group of women elected to membership, and subsequently served on the Board of Governors. Candis is an active and valued member to this day, lunching almost daily in the main dining room, and more than holding her own in lively conversation with whomever is seated at her table.
In 1993, the University Club of Los Angeles, which had been founded in 1898, and thus preceded the University Club of Pasadena by 25 years, closed its doors. There was a "transfer of membership" program, which encouraged LA's members to transfer to Pasadena without formalities. Over twenty former University Club of Los Angeles members did so, including notable current regulars Richard Henderson, Wally Erickson and Ted Calleton. Most of the Los Angeles library also came to Pasadena; the books can be distinguished by the book plates. Along with the books, came a piece of antique furniture, and the portrait of Judge Russ Avery, one of the University Club of Los Angeles' founders.
The University of Club of Pasadena's downstairs "billiard room" was transformed into the Club Pub (still housing one pool table) in 2002. This project, primarily the brainchild of Board member Allan Munnecke, is noteworthy since it was largely financed by Club members. Today, the stairwell into the pub is lined with vintage photos of the Rose bowl in various stages of construction. These photos were supplied by member Bill Leishman, whose grandfather, William Leishman, was the inspiration for this Myron Hunt designed national treasure. Bill's father, the late Lathrop Leishman was also a member of the Club and is distinguished by a special trophy given out annually to a float in the Rose parade. The Club Pub is a favorite spot for causal member activities, as well as, regular breakfast and lunch groups.
In 2004, President Christle Balvin read the Club's history and learned about the main dining room "view window" that had been eliminated in 1948. Noting that the objectionable "old garages" were no longer there, she moved to have the window restored. Notwithstanding the vocal objection of two fiscal curmudgeons on the Board (John Burrows and Richard Henderson), the motion easily passed and the work on the window commenced. It turned out that the original window had been left intact, window panes and all, within the walls for over 55 years. All that was missing was the original sarcasm, since the "view window" now overlooks a pleasant leafy prospect.
In recent years, the Club has been open to outside banquet and wedding business and has become the meeting venue for community and professional organizations, including The Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and often the Pasadena Bar Association. This has helped strengthen the bonds between the Club and the community, and for this, The Club is deeply grateful.
Unfortunately, it seemed the tail was wagging the dog, with the balance of outside groups and nonmember activities outweighing member events. Under the leadership of President David Mans, in 2008 the Board of Governors adopted a strategic plan that rebalanced the mix of activities, which led to a members' dues rollback, and outside groups paying market rate. With the further addition of reciprocal arrangements with prominent clubs worldwide, member value increased. This refocusing of efforts rebranded the Club from "where Pasadena does business," to "where members come first." Despite the challenging economic times of 2008-2010, membership is on the rise, with young professionals joining the Club in record numbers.
The University Club of Pasadena continues to be an institution made up of the leading business and professional men and women of the greater Pasadena area and provides a friendly and stimulating environment for its members. A great debt is owed to the founders of the Club, presidents and numerous Governors, committee chairs and members who have generously given of their talents and time.