In the early twentieth century Saint Paul was a prosperous urban center, that to some extent looked to the eastern United States and Europe for guidance as to how to expand its social and cultural institutions. One expression of this ambition was the establishment of the city's private social clubs. In 1910 the Minnesota Club Clubhouse was constructed, in 1913 the University Club members opened their Summit Avenue Clubhouse, and in 1917 the Saint Paul Athletic Club opened in Downtown Saint Paul. All of these clubs occupied magnificent buildings, all as impressive as the greatest of their kind in the United States at the time. Many American cities also had three clubs similar to those in Saint Paul - each had different objectives: The Saint Paul Athletic Club was a full service athletic/city club; The Minnesota Club catered to high level, social, political, and business leaders; and The University Club welcomed applications for membership from the graduates of accredited colleges and universities. By the end of the last century two of these great clubs were gone - the University Club the last to survive. A few years ago the University Club reopened the magnificent banquet facilities in the former Saint Paul Athletic Club building, playing a pivotal role saving that great historic English Renaissance style clubhouse. Shortly it will expand its offerings to include extensive athletic facilities - including the fabulous restored private indoor pool.
The University Club's Summit Avenue Clubhouse was completed and opened for member use in 1913. The building was designed by Reed and Stem, designers of Grand Central Station in New York City, The Saint Paul Hotel, the Downtown Clubhouse (the former Saint Paul Athletic Club) and numerous Summit Avenue homes. The clubhouse was modeled after London's great turn-of-the-century city clubs, both in architecture and purpose. Today it remains a member of a prestigious association of similar clubs located throughout the United States and the world - many of which were similarly chartered in the late 19th century and patterned after the Oxford and Cambridge Clubs in London (established in 1821) - all still welcoming University Club members to enjoy their facilities. In the 1930's the pool was added; after the second world war the University Club was the first of the three clubs to open its membership to women, and in recent years the club has been restored and an updated fitness center opened.
Today the University Club, as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2013, continues to welcome membership applications from graduates of (or those presently enrolled in) accredited colleges and universities of all ages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and points of view. The University Club is enriched by this diversity of membership. It continues to offer to its members the opportunity for great conversations, the discovery of new friends, and as has happened over the years to many of its members - the possibility for romance.
The University Club is a refuge from the modern world in many ways, a place of quiet and beauty where the whispers of ancient sentiments can still be heard.