The Harvard Club of New York City: A Brief History


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The Harvard Club of New York City was founded on November 3, 1865, at a meeting of Harvard Graduates in New York, held pursuant to the call of a committee of five, appointed at a previous meeting. The notice of the meeting read as follows:

New York City, October 31, 1865.

A meeting of a few of the ALUMNI of HARVARD COLLEGE, resident in New York, was held October 26th, to consider the feasibility of instituting, a society, to bring together, more intimately, the members of their College in the City. The peculiar spirit and influence of Cambridge education and association would seem a sufficient bond of sympathy on which to base such a society, even among persons widely diverse in age and pursuits.

A committee was appointed to submit a plan of organization at an adjourned meeting, to be held Friday, November 3rd, at the rooms of the 'American Geog. and Statistical Society,' Clinton Hall, at which your attendance is invited.

Arthur Amory,
Jas. H. Fay,
Thos. Kinnicutt,
J.T. Kilbreth,
A.C. Haseltine,

At this meeting, Samuel Osgood, '32 was elected the first President.

The first large gathering of the Club, a reception and supper at Delmonico's, was given by Vice-President Frederick A. Lane, '49 (subsequently President of the Club) on February 22, 1866. A full account of the supper published in the New York Evening Post of the following day included the following:

"The Vice-President, F.A. Lane, who gave the reception, welcomed the company, and committed the chair to Dr. Osgood, the President of the Club, who made the opening address and called out the several speeches with appropriate sentiments.

President Hill, Dr. Jared Sparks, William M. Evarts (who represented Yale College), George Bancroft, Dr. Bellows, Dr. Willard Parker, Joseph H. Choate, J.L. Sibley (Librarian of Cambridge), Rev. E.E. Hale, and Young Lawrence (hero of Fort Fisher), made speeches of great interest and variety, and an original poem by Dr. O.W. Holmes was read.

Fine music from a choice band, with old college songs from the Glee Club of Harvard men, gave zest to the proceedings, at intervals, and the whole company at the close joined in Auld Lang Syne with clasped hands and right good will.

A large and generous spirit prevailed. The Harvard enthusiasm did not degenerate into exclusive pride or self-admiration."

The first Annual Dinner was held at the Maison Dopree on February 22, 1867. On February 23, 1869, the Annual Dinner was held at Delmonico's, and for many years thereafter the meetings and dinners of the Club continued there.

The first catalogue was issued in 1867. It names the first officers as follows: President, Rev. Samuel Osgood, D.D., '32; Vice-Presidents, Dr. John A. Stone, '33; Frederick A. Lane, '49, and George Baty Blake, Jr., '59; Treasurer, Charles Emerson, '63; Secretary, Albert C. Haseltine, '63; Executive Committee, Arthur Amory and A.W. Green; and Committee on Admissions, George Dexter, George Lawrence, Thomas Kinnicutt, Albert Stickney, and R.N. Bellows. There were then ninety-five members. Monthly meetings were held from October to May, including the Annual Dinner in February.

Through the Club's influence, at Commencement in 1879, the Rev. Dr. Henry Bellows, '32, was elected Overseer, the first person residing outside of Massachusetts to receive this election. The election, however, was subsequently declared void, since the Massachusetts statutes of that time were interpreted to limit Overseers to residents of that State. Partly as a result of this incident the statutes were changed in 1880 to throw open the position to residents of all States.

In 1886 the Club rented its first permanent quarters at 11 West 22nd Street, and the following year became incorporated under New York State Laws. These quarters soon proved inadequate, and in 1892 the Club purchased the plot at 27 and 29 West 44th Street, fifty feet in width. The first clubhouse, still a part of the enlarged structure, was opened in 1895.

Six years later the Club felt the need of still larger quarters and bought from four members the property on 45th Street in the rear of the existing building; it had been acquired a few years earlier in anticipation of the Club's requirements. The addition, which doubled the capacity of the clubhouse, included Harvard Hall, and provided for the first time bedrooms and athletic facilities. It was formally opened at a large meeting held in Harvard Hall on December 7, 1905. President Austen G. Fox, '69, presided, James J. Higginson, '57, represented the Building Committee, and President Charles W. Eliot, '53, Joseph H. Choate, '52, and Edmund Wetmore, "60, were the speakers.

A few years later, certain members, anticipating the Club's further needs, purchased and held at cost the lot No. 31 West 44th Street, with a frontage of twenty-five feet, and three lots, Nos. 32, 34 and 36 West 45th Street, with a frontage of sixty feet, adjoining the Club property. The Club subsequently purchased these lots and built on them the latest addition. The dedication took place in the new dining room on November 3, 1915. Amory G. Hodges, '74, President of the Club, presided; Langdon P. Marvin, '98, Secretary of the Club, spoke for the Building Committee, and E. Gerry Chadwick, '04, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Building Committee, presented to the President the cancelled vouchers for the payments for the addition; Odin B. Roberts, '86, of Boston, presented a silver bowl from the Harvard Club of Boston; Edward S. Martin, '77, read an original poem; a letter was read from William G. Choate, '52; and Joseph H. Choate, '52, made the principal speech. The bronze tablet at the entrance of the dining hall, a copy of the original call for the meeting at which the Club was organized, was presented by Ingersoll Amory, '92, son of Arthur Amory, one of those who signed the call.

Now, twelve years later, the growth in membership and in the use of the Club has caused eleven members to prepare for the day, not far distant, when further enlargement of the clubhouse will be necessary. They have purchased the adjoining property, No. 33 West 44th Street and are holding it for the Club's future use.

Vincent Astor, '15, presented to the Club in November, 1924, a room in memory of Nicholas Biddle, '00, which is used for private dinners. It is a stately apartment paneled in French walnut, with chandeliers and wall brackets of silver. Above the mantel shelf hangs a portrait of Biddle, the gift of a number of his classmates. William M. Kendall, '76, has recently presented to the Club two chandeliers of ornamental bronze which hang in the dining room.

The athletic facilities have been increased by the addition of two squash racquets courts, and improved locker space.

In the preparedness movement before the World War, the Harvard Club took a very active part. The Plattsburg movement in 1915 and 1916 was started and carried through largely by members of the Club under Major-General Leonard Wood, M., '84. During the war over one-third of the members of the Club, old and young, resident and non-resident, were in active service in the armies and navies of the United States or of the Allies, and sixty-five members of the Club died in service. Practically every member of the Club was in war service. Practically every member of the Club was in war service, and the Club itself conducted a canteen for soldiers and sailors near the Pennsylvania Station, and took part in many other war activities. On Armistice Day, 1927, it is expected that the permanent War Memorial will be unveiled.



Website: The History
Article Name: The Harvard Club of New York City: A Brief History
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Harvard Club of New York City : constitution, by-laws, rules and list of officers and members. New York: The Club, 1927.
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