By Pat Nowak Photos courtesy of the Toledo club
This is part of our MLiving Series highlighting businesses that have
prospered for over 100 years,
demonstrating hard work,
passion, patience and ingenuity.
The Toledo Club, a bastion of old money and fabulous architecture opened its doors on Saturday, June 19, 1915. Since then it has become the premiere meeting place for movers and shakers and on any day you can see a who’s who of business leaders, community activists and young up and comers.
In 1870, Toledo business leaders began meeting regularly to discuss the happenings of our city. David Ross Locke, who went by the pen name Petroleum V. Nasby, gave the group the name Draconian, which, was widely received as harsh. Members changed the name to The Toledo Club in 1889 and a new building on Madison and Huron Sts. served as its headquarters. Membership was then limited to 350. Twenty five years later, when the building was outgrown, plans were made to find a new location.
A site was purchased and The Toledo Club was built at Madison and 14th for $500,000. The architects were Mills, Rhines, Bellman and Norhoff with Lawrence Bellman as the chief architect for the English Renaissance Building.
The outside is Harvard brick and Indiana limestone. Many of the rooms were originally decorated to reflect English and Italian Renaissance themes. The club featured dining rooms, restaurant and private meeting rooms. An athletic complex with a basketball court, bowling alley/squash courts and swimming pool was opened in 1926.
In the beginning ladies were not welcome throughout the club, but eventually a side entrance and dining room were designated for their use.
While dues remained stable members were each assessed $50 in 1922 due to lost revenue because of Prohibition. The Depression also brought some cost cutting measures with only cash allowed and increased luncheon and dinner prices. The original billiards room was turned into the Red Room which is used today for events and musical performances.
One of the noteworthy entertainment happenings at the club is when Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians played a one night stand -. Unfortunately it was a limited seating many members were not able to get in.
The club has evolved in recent years adding parties, redecorating several of the rooms, redoing the athletic complex and expanding its squash facilities. Members enjoy competitive play with the biggest tournament of the year being the Toledo Squash Classic with players coming from the US and Canada. The Club hosted the North American Open Singles Championships. This crown jewel of squash was held from 1987–1990 in the 3 walled, glass tour court erected in the ballroom. The glass tour court was also brought in for the WPSA-World Professional Squash Association Championships in 1986.
In 1990, membership became gender inclusive, and the club is now a part of the green energy brigade.Today you can take a spin class, body sculpt or visit the barber shop. If you need alterations, call the tailor and buffets are widely attended. While the dress code used to be more formal, favoring suits, today proper business casual attire is required and in the main dining room, suit jackets are allowed, sans tie.
The Membership classifications have been revised to fit different lifestyles and budgets. The Toledo Club will be hosting a mortgage burning celebration on Thursday, July 30 at a members-only event.
This article includes information from The Toledo Club Topics. Anyone interested in a Toledo Club Membership Experience may contact Membership Director, Russ Wozniak at [email protected]