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HISTORY

Over A Century of Grandeur

The Union Club of Cleveland, incorporated on September 25, 1872 is one of the oldest private social organizations in Cleveland. A group of many of the city’s industrialists, businessmen, and professional citizens who had originally belonged to the Cleveland Club formed the new group for the purpose of having a place for reading, for discussing the topics of the day, for entertaining and for promoting physical training and education.  From the beginning, the Union Club was the center of social and commercial life, the place where the city’s leaders met and mingled with people of accomplishment and culture.  Many of Cleveland’s great business and cultural achievements were first conceived and initiated within its sociable parlors and dining rooms. 

During its distinguished history, the venerable Union Club has survived several stock market crashes and national depressions and recessions, two world wars, a global pandemic, explosive industrial growth followed by gradual decline, and civil unrest and rioting. Throughout the good times and bad, members saw themselves entwined in Cleveland's history.
 

The 81 founders included such luminaries as William Bingham, Sylvester Everett, William Gordon, Marcus Hanna, Samuel Mather, Henry B. Payne, Amasa Stone and Jeptha Wade.  These charter members contributed $600 each to acquire, as the Club’s new home (and first clubhouse), the Truman Handy mansion on Euclid Avenue just west of East 9th Street.

In the early years of the Union Club, the membership roster included U.S. Presidents Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley and Taft.  Other notable names included inventors Charles Brush, Caesar Grasselli, businessman William Rockefeller and famed surgeon George Crile. 

From its beginning, the Union Club was the center of social and commercial life, the place where the city's leaders met and mingled with people of accomplishment and culture.  Many of Cleveland's great business and cultural achievements were first conceived and initiated within the sociable parlors and dining rooms.  

By 1900, the membership had increased to 500 with a long waiting list of influential people clamoring to join what had become the most selective and prestigious club in Cleveland.  Qualified candidates often had to wait as long as 10 years for admittance. 

The fortunes of the Club coincided with the extraordinary success of the City of Cleveland.  With its exploding population and booming industries, the city had become an economic and political powerhouse by 1900.  Meanwhile, the Union Club's facilities, which had been spacious and accommodating 30 years before, had become seriously overcrowded and outdated for its growing membership. 

On June 25, 1901, the Club was incorporated for profit; it became the Union Club Co. and subsequently purchased the Castle property at East 12th and Euclid Ave. and worked with Cleveland architect Chas. F. Schweinfurth to design and construct a new clubhouse which was dedicated on December 6, 1905.  The new clubhouse was built to accommodate the increased membership and remains the Club’s home. With its refined and stately classicism, Schweinfurth's massive building constructed of Berea sandstone was immediately recognized as an architectural jewel in the bustling center of Cleveland, widely admired for its quiet dignity and tasteful design.  

On May 23, 1961, the Union Club Co. amended its 1901 articles of incorporation, becoming an Ohio corporation not for profit. 

In 1983 the first woman, Karen Horn, was admitted as a member will full privileges, allowing women entrance through the front door, use of the marble staircase, and access to the entire club. 

Mary Lynn Laughlin was named the first woman President of the Union Club in May 2007.

On May 28, 2015, Randy McShepard was named the first African American President of the Union Club.

On April 1, 2019 the Union Club welcomed the members of the Intown Club, a private invitation-only ladies’ luncheon club as members of the Union Club which grew the percentage of primary members who are women to over 33%.  This is iconic as the Union Club till the early 80’s was men-only.