Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Article on the Tennessee Club: Published December 20, 1876 in the Memphis Daily Appeal

This is article was transcribed and somewhat corrected by me from the OCR interpretation for reproduction on this blog. The original can be found here.

The "Tennessee"
The New Club - Opened to Members and 
Their Friends on Monday Night - An
Elegant Interview.
What Clubs were in the Olden Time, and
what they are in the New - Their
Purposes and Advantages

     The Tennessee club was opened on Monday night to members and their city friends, and unless otherwise ordered by the governing committee, will here after remain closed to other than members and out-of-town visitors. There was no ceremony. The doors were thrown open to all comers, the rooms were brilliantly lighted, and all who entered wandered at will from room to room, ejaculation and exclamation telling of the fresh surprise that at every turn waited on the visitor. There was already an aroma of club life pervading the atmosphere, and notwithstanding the newness and freshness of furniture and appointments, guests and clubmen alike fitted to the surroundings, every one rejoicing that at last we had a club on the best plan, the home of which is all that such a home can be made. So pleasantly located the Tennessees cannot fail to quickly recruit beyond any limit they have at present set, and make themselves felt as a potent and powerful influence in the social life of the city.
     Clubs and Club Life - The Tennessees
     In New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, NewOrleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, Nashville, Louisville, and other cities in America,clubs have become a respectable and representative feature in the social system. In many instances the influence of these clubs have been felt both socially and politically, as organizations embody in their respective memberships much of the learning, culture. and even moneyed power of the prominent and respected circles of society. Did time permit, we could give along and interesting account of the origin of clubs in American cities, their progress, development, influence and advantages, together with much that recalls pleasant reminiscences of their past, and which would naturally and rightly stimulate in any intelligent and thrifty community a desire to have these organizations formed and perfected to a degree of unexceptional sociability and utility. Clubs originated in England -being at first societies or coteries as far back as the days of Sir Walter Raleigh, Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, Capham, Beaumont and Fletcher (the twin stars of the drama), and other wits and literati of the age. On Friday street, London, was located "The Mermaid,' where Raleigh astonished everyone by smoking tobacco, while Ben Johnson founded a club which held it's first meetings
in the old Devil tavern, where Crew, Martin, Donne, Cotton, Selden and others of that age were wont to assemble and have a merry time, both theology and politics being excluded. Under the reign of Charles II the
corrupt excesses of the age had a most powerful influence upon the clubs, which degenerated into vicious and immoral habits and customs. About 1735 the "Beefsteak club" was formed, thanks to the social habits and appreciative habits of the earl of Peterborough, who chanced to visit Rich, the pantomimist, and included among its members Brougham, Fox, Sheridan, and the remarkable duke of Norfolk. These clubs, however,
were organized on a modest scale, and between them and the magnificence of the present London clubs, which occupy among the finest buildings in the British metropolis, there 'was as much difference as
now exists between a country " 'possum supper", and a metropolitan banquet. While the facilities of modern life-club have wonderfully increased the expense has greatly diminished, each member for a small yearly
sum being enabled to secure comforts and advantages which only an ample fortune could procure. Previous to the establishment of clubs in England, tavern and coffeehouses supplied the place of these institutions. According to the account which Calley gives of his first visit to "Will's in Covent Garden, it required an "introduction to that society not to be considered an impertinent intruder. The politicians assembled at the St. James coffee-house, whence all the articles in the first "Tatters" are dated. "White's" was the favorite morning lounge for young dandies and men of fashion about town, in those days three o'clock was the fashionable London dining hour. Soon after six the men began to assemble at the coffeehouses they frequented. The lighter graces of wit, refinement and conviviality were but too often the prelude to hard drinking in
those days. The staid and sober gentlemen who now-a-days frequent the gorgeous modern clubs hi Pall-Mall and St. James street are not in search of "lawless revelry," high play, or those keen passes of wit which
characterized Brooke's in the days of George, Selwyn and Fox." They rather seek the comforts of a home, freedom from restraint, a good cuisine, and fine wines at the lowest possible cost, a well-chosen library, a quiet game of whist, and, above all, the inestimable privilege of not being bored by family, friends, foes, duns or acquaintances. From England clubs have passed to other countries, where they have also become popular, wealthy, and largely representative of the higher and more commanding worth of society. On the continent they take the form of the French "circle" or the German "casino," having assumed real social perfection in Paris, being situated in the most elegant quarters, and fitted up with great luxuriance. At all
French clubs there is a daily table d'hote, for which members inscribe their names and those of their friends whom they wish to invite. In English and American clubs, however, the table d'hote system is rather the ex
ception than the rule. While the English idea of club life has found favor, and made great progress in the
various American cities, in no place has the system become so general or attained such magnificence as in New York. In that city, as at present here and elsewhere, young men who frequent clubs were in the habit of
meeting at hotels, taverns, chop-houses, drinking-saloons and billiard-halls. In New York, and other large cities of America, most of the young men in certain conditions of life belong to some one of the many clubs
which have sprung up in such abundance during the last fifteen or twenty years. "For those who are unmarried," says an intelligent writer, "an organization of this kind is a great boon, almost a home. At a moderate rate they secure furnished rooms in the neighborhood of their club. Here they breakfast and dine. Lunch is taken downtown. The habit, or rather the necessity of taking 'lunch down town' has already made
it's influence manifest in New York." We find in the World, of that city, the following article upon the subject of "luncheon clubs:"
While strife and rumors of strife disturb the atmosphere of club life In the upper regions of the city, there is a movement gathering strength, we are told, to revive a particular variety of club down-town which sprang up, nourished and died out there some fifteen rears ago. This may be called a Luncheon club, the object being to provide the members with a convenient and accessible place where, like General Scott, they may "snatch a hasty plate of soup" in the middle of the day. A number of merchants are said to have already subscribed to the project, which in its main features resembles rather the mercantile casinos or lonjas established for the convenience of foreigners at such ports as Vera Cruz, Callao Valparaiso, than the regular English or American club with which we are all familiar.

It is of the essence of the true English and American club that It belongs to the night-life of great cities as it has been picturesquely said by a clever woman of the olive tree, that it grows by moonlight, so it may be said of the true modern club that it grows by gaslight. It Is a place where the members may meet in their hours of relative relaxation, after dinner, to sum up the events of the day, exchange speculations on the morrow, and generally "shake up" their minds. When the luncheon-club experiment was tried in New York before, it very soon came to grief. The '"truck" of the members, to use an expressive If not an elgant phrase, soon found that the managers were better served than themselves, they began to suspect that they were no better off than that most degraded class of beings known, despoiled and despised of all practical men as "stockholders." As the same causes are apt to produce the same effects all the world over, the luncheon clubs of South America and Asia and other regions, in which it might be supposed the sharper necessity for such an institution would counteract its radical vices, have fared little better. In many instances they have degenerated into mere barrooms, where, during the business hours of the day, a few foreign stragglers can be found imbibing fantastic imitations of English or American drinks, or maundering over old numbers of Punch and the Illustrated News and La Vie Parisienne. With such excellent provision as now exists down town for the inward accommodation of the business community during the busy part of the day, the fate of any revival of the old Luncheon club may be easily predicted from the outset.
     But to return to the advantages of club life to young men who are unmarried and have no family, as set forth by the practical workings of the system in New York. The writer whom we quoted says "When the day's work is over, our young clubite goes to his room, dresses for dinner, and repairs to his club, where all his wants are supplied. For from forty to seventy-five dollars per annum he is furnished the year round with luxurious rooms, gas, fire, daily papers, magazines, books of reference, the use of a library, materials for writing, and admirable attendance. He has the command of regular servants, without having to pay or to manage them. He can have whatever meal or refreshment he wants, served up with comfort and cleanliness, of the best-mounted private establishment. He orders just what hechooses, having no interest to think of but
his own. He can always command agreeable society. In short, it is impossible to suppose a greater degree of liberty in living." In view of the organization of the Tennessee club in this city, it may not be amiss to give a few points relative to the grand clubs in New York city. By far the oldest and most complete of these is the Union club, organized in 1836, its membership being Limited to one thousand, initiation fee $100, and annual
dues $75. Some idea of the wealth and magnitude of the Union club may be had when it is stated that there- are seventy employees attached to its service, the annual pay-roll being $53,000. Among the items of expense for the past year were $8000 for rent, $7000 for fuel, $3000 for stationery and printing, $3000 for
cards, and $1500 for newspapers and periodicals. Large as these items may appear, the receipts of the club for 1876 amounted to $109,000. The lot, building, furniture, wines, liquors, cigars, provisions and stores on hand, cash and dues trom members, are valued at $375,182. This club is largely composed of heads of families, and like other such organizations in New York, receives among its members and officers the gravest, worthiest, and most conservative men in the communitv -men who have distinguished themselves in law, commerce, and politics, and are identified with the great social, industrial, and commercial movement of the day. Another noticeable and prominent organization in the above city is the New York club, organized about 1848, being considered the exponent of the ideas of the jeunessee doree. The New York club opened with about one hundred members, and soon became the foremost organization for the young men of that city. Its membership is limited to four hundred, the initiation fee being two hundred dollars and the yearly dues seventy-five dollars. The New York club is an incorporated organization, having the right of holding real estate to the amount of three hundred thousand dollars. At present it is located in the large house on the southeast corner of Astor Place and Broadway, its annual rent being fifteen thousand dollars. Near the New York club is located the Knickerbocker club, which was organized in December, 1871, its membership, being limited to three hundred; the initiation fee is three hundred dollars, and the yearly dues one hundred dollars. This club is admirably managed, and has a prominent status, Alexander Hamilton, jr., being its president. The oldest artistic and literary club ot New York city is the Century club, which was founded
in 1817. The object of this club was to form an association of gentlemen of the city of New York engaged or interested in literature and the fine arts, with a view to their advancement as well as the promotion of social
intercourse. The Century has in its art gallery about one hundred pictures, engravings, casts and busts, valued at over $26,000, and a library of fifteen hundred volumes. The membership is limited to five hundred, the initiation fee being one hundred dollars and the annual dues thirty-six dollars. It is in a flourishing condition, owning property to the amount of $119,689 53. The Century, Union and German clubs are the only organizations of their kind that occupy buildings especiallv erected for club-house purposes. Similar in object and aim to the Century is the Arcadian club, organized in May, 1872, and paying an annual rent of $6000; the initiation being $50 for professional and $100 for non-professional members. The membership is limited to 600, the annual dues being $40. The main aim of the Arcadian is to promote fellowship among journalists, artists, musicians, literary men and members of the dramatic profession. Art, music, the drama and literature constitute a subject of attention from respective committees, each of which select an evening for their special behoof, and can invite for such evening only an artist, literary man, journalist or dignitary who may desire to be present. Ladies are invited to the monthly receptions, which are usually brilliant. During the gay season
there is a Saturday table d'hote, to which members can invite a friend. Pall Mall, originated some sixty years ago by Lord Cattereagh, has its antitype in the Travelers' club, which is comfortable, homelike and well managed. The object of this club, like its great prototype in Pall Mall, was to afford a resort for gentlemen who had resided or traveled abroad, as well as with a view to the accommodation of foreigners, who, when
properly recommended, received an invitation for the period of their stay. Another New York club of great weight and importance is the Manhattan, which is partly social and partly political, being in close sympathetic communion with the Democratic party. The principal leaders of the Democratic party, both in the city and State of New York, are members of this association, its president being August Belmont. The late John Van Buren had a great deal to do with the establishment of this club, whose membership is limited to six hundred. The initiation fee is $250, and the yearly due, $50, The Union League club formed in May, 1863, is partly social and political in its aims and objects. It is in direct affiliation with the Republican party. Similar in purpose to the Arcadian is the Lotos club, which was founded in March, 1870. Distinguished strangers, sojourning in the city, are always welcome at the Lotos club. The resident membership is limited to four
hundred. In addition to the above oaganizations in New York, we may mention the New York Yacht Club, organized July 30, 1844; the American Jockey club, and the Army and Navy club, organized in April, 1871, These three clubs have also their social features, and in point of wealth and
prominence are of no little representation in the New Y'ork club system. We have thus presented as it were a glimpse into the character of the leading clubs of New York city, for from the character of the gentlemen who are members of the Tennessee club we feel assured that our city will be proud of the organization and the good results of its operations.
received its charter about two years ago, the incorporators being Colton Greene, D. P. Hadden, H. C. Warriner. C. W. Metcalf, U.B. Miller, and I. M. Hill. Pursuant to the powers vested by the charter the incorpora tors effected a temporary organization by selecting as the executive committee, General Colton Greene, chairman, J. M. Fowlkes, R.B. Clark and R. D. Snowden. The regular organization will be effected at the meeting Thursday night, when the regular officers will be elected and the governing committee
appointed. The Tennessee club is oganized on the stock plan, each share being placed at $10. The amount of initiation and the regular dues have not been announced, though the membership is already, about two hundred. The governing committee will have the arrangement of the dues and the management of the club, which is inaugurated under the most favorable auspices. Since the temporary organization of which we speak was made,the executive committee, above named, has rented the three upperstories of the large
and commodious budding, No. 37 South Court street, and so altered and fitted it up as to make it suitable in every respect for the purposes of a club-house. The building is four stories high, and occupies a most desirable locality, having all the retiracy, and at the same time being adjacent to the center of the city. It is midway between Main and Second streets, its front overlooking Court square, with its green sward, glistening fountain, and wealth of magnolia, oak and other trees, where the partially-tamed squirrels sport and frisk about to the great delight and amusement of visitors and others who frequent the beautiful park. A description of the
cannot be made within a short space. Upon entering the door, which is opened in response to an electric annunciator, the visitor ascends a handsomely-mounted staiwayto the first floor, where elegance, taste and convenience are at once manifested by the arrangement of the hall, handsome walnut doors with French
plate-glass, and handsome chandeliers, and modestly beautiful carpet. To the left, and immediately at the head of the stairway which reaches the hall, is the office, which will be occupied by the secretary, who will be
a member of the club. This office is of rich walnut, neatly paneled and ingrained. the upper part being surmounted by a framework of ground glass. the east wall holds a ruby window, of octagonal shape, the glass being of the same material as that which encompasses the office. Immediately in rear of the office is the boudoir, fitted up in the most approved style. To the left of the center hall is the library, a room whose furniture, papering and carpet at once attract the eye and ellicit the admiration. The furniture in this room is of walnut, with table to match. The papering and paneling are in accord with the color of the carpet and furniture. A noticable feature is an elegant chandelier, with patent drop-light. On the opposite side of this hall is the parlor, a large and commodious room, fitted up in handsome style. The walls are decorated with the very finest paper and paneling, while the furniture is elegant and novel. The furniture is of walnut, the cushioning being of Egyptian fabric, made of feathers and silk. Every glance gives a clear and harmonious combination of right and obtuse angles, the colors of the carpet blendinig in harmony with
those of the cushions. At either end of the room is a handsome mirror, set in rich walnut to correspond with the windows and doors, the glass of which is heavy French plate. This will be the general lounge-room
for social intercourse and such diversions as the members desire. In the library there will always be found the daily papers of the Union, four London dailies, besides one daily of Manchester and Liverpool, England, and
Dublin. Ireland, all the American magazines, the leading English magazines, and French magazines. This will be the neucleus for a grand and permanent library. On the next floor is located the billiard hall and a number
of card rooms. The billiard hall contains four handsome tables and outfit, with the usual compliment of chairs for spectators. This hall, like the card rooms, parlor and library, is also fitted up in the very best style. Everything indicates the good taste of the committee in the selection of the furniture, and the artistic talent of Mr. E. C. Jones, the architect, under whose direction and design
the building was altered and the improvements made. On the fourth floor is a large hall and two committee rooms. These apartments have not yet been finished, but their outfit and furniture will be equally as appropriate and handsome as those already mentioned, in fact; we can no where in the south find club rooms more, elegantly fitted and more beautifully furnished than those of the Tennessee club. The monogram of
this club is seen in the furniture, window curtains and service. Every arrangement, from the wine cellar to the root, is in accord with convenience, elegance and comfort. The general design of the whole house was conceived by the executive committee, with Mr. E. G. Jones, who made the plans the change necessary to render the building what it now is. The elegant walnut furniture in different mountings was made on special contract by Mitchell, Hoffman & Co., of this city, who also fitted up the entire building in the luxurious style of which we speak. The handsome walnut cornices, window casings, doors, etc., were made by W. II. Eader & Co., of this city, under the directions of Mr. E. C. Jones, the architect. The handsome wall
papering, window shades and decorations were done in the most skillful manner by Marcus Jones, while the painting is the most artistic ellort yet made by Hook & LaGrill. In every room and hall there is an electric enunciator and indicator for summoning servants and waiters and announcing the arrival of members. This leature is the work of A. O. Schultz. The chandeliers and furniture, which harmonize so well, and are the
wonder as well as the admiration of every beholder, were made by Mitchell, Vance & Co., of New York, especially for the Tennessee club. In addition to the rooms which we have mentioned, there are the necessary washrooms and private apartments. To avoid all odors from the kitchen, no such feature is within the building. However, a connecting hallway leads to Gaston's neighboring restaurant where any and everything can be ordered by the electric bell, and will be served in the most elegant style known to the cuisine. Nothing but the purest and most reliable brands of wines, liquors and cigars will be kept in the club.
     While card playing, chess, smoking and other social diversions are allowable, no species of gambling will be tolerated. In fact gambling is not only excluded, but any kind of gaming will result in the expulsion of the member who attempts it. The primary object of the Tennessee club is social intercourse in a genial and gentlemanly manner. That it will accomplish much good we need hardly say. The informal opening of the club house last nigth, the generous spirit that pervaded, and the warm courtesy that marked the occasion, somewhat indicate the social excellence and elegant hospitality that will characterize the career of the Tennessee club.