Rock Island Club
The idea of forming an association such as the Rock Island Club was first broached by a party of Rock Island gentlemen, who met on the evening of November 18, 1896, at the Harper House. F. W. Bahnsen was chosen temporary chairman, and E. J. Burns temporary secretary. A committee of seven was named to perfect an organization, and at a meeting two days afterward, the latter appointed a sub-committee of three to draw up a constitution and by-laws, and to take out articles of incorporation. A charter was secured during December of the same year, and at a meeting held that month the first board of directors was elected, consisting of A. C. Dart, Charles McHugh, F. W. Bahnsen, W. H. Marshall, E. H. Guyer, Mayer Rosenfield; William Jackson, Phil Mitchell, E. W. Hurst, Henry Carse and C. J. Searle. For nearly two years the club remained practically dormant, negotiations being in progress at that time for suitable quarters. Finally terms were arranged with Mrs. Dr. C. B. Kinyon for the use of the present quarters on Sixteenth Street and Third Avenue, and October 14, 1898, another meeting was held at the Harper House, at which a three-year lease of the premises was ratified. Before this time had expired, in July, 1901, the clubhouse and grounds were purchased from Mrs. Kinyon, $12,000 being the consideration. Immediate plans for ex-tensions were begun, and during the Fall $5,000 was spent upon improvements, which have given the club quarters that are considered the finest in the State outside of Chicago. The Club began with a membership of 100. Being a pronounced success from the start, there was no difficulty in securing additions to the enrollment, and at the present time there are 287 members in good standing. F. W. Bahnsen was the first president, and John T. Stafford was the first secretary. Mayer Rosenfield was elected treasurer when the organization was effected, and held the position up to the time he ceased to be a resident of the City. At the election in January, 1899, the board of directors was divided into three sections, one serving three years, another two years, and . a third one year, as follows : Three years, W. H. Mar-shall, E. H. Guyer, C. A. Stoddard; two years, A. C. Dart, F. W. Bahnsen, Dr. G. L. Eyster, George A. Price; one year, Charles McHugh, Phil Mitchell, John T. Stafford, Mayer Levi. Since that time one section has been elected annually for a term of three years. The defined objects of the club are, of course, largely social. The quarters are fitted up with parlors, a library, private dining rooms, a billiard room and bowling alleys. The rooms are elegantly furnished, and provided with everything for the entertainment of the members and guests. They are especially convenient at times when the City is called upon to do honor to a visitor of distinction. There are fourteen standing committees provided for in the by-laws. Of these nine are appointed on club affairs and entertainment. The others are calculated to help in the up building of the community. The subjects they cover are local improvements, Rock Island Arsenal, the tri-cities, manufacturers and railroads. Through these latter bodies many important matters have been brought to the attention of the club, and subsequently acted upon, with great benefit to the city. A number of enterprises that were looking for a suitable field in which to locate have been induced, through the efforts of the Club to locate in Rock Island, and concessions have been secured from various corporations doing business here, upon which private appeals would have had no effect. Another acquisition to the City, for which the Club deserves almost entire credit, is the Illinois Theatre, built on the advance sale seat plan, by George H. Johnson of St. Louis, at a cost of $50,000, and completed in 1901. The matter was first taken hold of by the Club in 1900. Rock Island now has a play-house second to none in the country, and it is all the more a source of satisfaction to the people at large because it was secured through local enterprise, manifested by a local organization. Another important movement the Club fathered, and the one that will probably do more for the City than any other one thing that has ever been undertaken, was that for the installation of a small arms plant by the Government at Rock Island Arsenal. This was one of the very first matters taken hold of by the Club as the champion of the City’s interests. How the support of Illinois and Iowa Congressmen and Senators was drawn to the project is too well known to need relating in detail. These successes point to the results which can be obtained by active and persistent co-operation, which the. Rock Island Club has, upon numerous occasions, demonstrated it is capable of promoting. The Rock Island Club is now in a flourishing condition. It is established upon a firm basis, for it fills a real need, and is conducted along correct lines.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908