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The Peripatetic Press Clubs of Chicago

A proud tradition

Press clubs in Chicago have a somewhat checkered past -- and a penchant for moving around.

[Photos 1894, 1907]

The first one was probably the short-lived Bohemia Club, organized in 1865.

The Bohemians rented two rooms in the Fourth National Bank building at the northwest corner of Monroe and Dearborn streets.

Club president was eminent astronomer Elias Colbert, then of the Tribune.

 The next club, also short lived, was really a mutual aid and burial society.

A third club was organized in 1869. This one was located in two rooms in the front of the first McVickers Theater building.

The premises came to a sad end in the Great Fire of 1871.

A new club, the Owl Club, was formed in 1876.

It occupied all but the first two floors of the new McVickers Theater building. Membership was restricted to writers, artists, actors and musicians.

In November 1879, Mark Twain was in Town to participate in festivities honoring Ulysses S. Grant. 

He and journalist friends, including Franc Wilkie of the Times and

 

 

 

Melville Stone of the Daily News, sat and talked in the Owl Club until 7 a.m.

Twain wondered why Chicago newspapermen had no club of their own. He urged them to start one.

The new press club was organized in January 1880.

Wilkie was president, Stone secretary. Joe Dunlop of the Times, as head of the rooms committee, secured two rooms in the Morrison building at the corner of Madison and Clark streets.

It was to be home for 15 years. The club remained on Madison Street -- in the old Hershey Music Hall and later above Mussey's Cafe -- until 1907, when it purchased the University Club house on North Dearborn for $150,000.

The premises were sold in 1915 for a handsome profit and the club moved to the City Hall Square building at 139 North Clark Street.

By 1921 the Press Club operated 24 hours a day. It had "one of the most complete" libraries in the city, including a set of autographed Mark Twain books.

Other facilities were a main dining room which boasted the "best  obtainable" food and service, card rooms, billiards and pool tables, reading and writing rooms, a ladies' dining room -- and a separate entrance for women.

After a couple of moves around the Loop in the 1920s, the club returned

to 30 North Dearborn in 1929 and remained there until it folded in 1936.

For the next 12 years there was no formal press club in Chicago.

In 1948, Robert Hurleigh and a group of news and radio men formed the Correspondents' Club with headquarters on the third floor of the old Sheraton Hotel (now the InterContinental).

In 1960, the club -- by then the Chicago Press Club -- moved to the penthouse atop the St. Clair Hotel.

After 17 years in penthouse luxury at the St. Clair, the club made its final move. 

It was to spend the next decade in the less luxurious, but very comfortable and spacious Ratskeller of the Wrigley Building.

The Chicago Press Club closed its doors in 1987.

The International Press Club of Chicago was established in 1992, peregrinating among several locations. 

Among them was a stint at the InterContinental Hotel, and a fondly remembered couple of years in the lovely Wine Cellar of the late, lamented Chez Paul.

IPCC today is pleasantly ensconced in  cozy digs at the Executive Plaza, 71 E. Wacker Drive.

Join us in a proud Chicago tradition.

 

Other press clubs