The University Club of Cincinnati was founded in 1879, as a result of a generalized call through the daily newspapers for persons interested in forming a club to be composed of “college men”, a movement seen in many great American cities. The Club’s Constitution stated the club’s purpose “to cultivate a spirit of fraternity among college men, and to foster higher education by uniting persons who appreciate its importance from realizing a sense of its benefits, as well as to provide for our social enjoyment…”
The original University Club lasted from 1879 until 1896, likely closing for financial reasons following a depression. In 1905, the local alumni of Harvard, Yale and Princeton colleges held a joint outing to re-establish a University Club. The Club formally opened April 27, 1907, with the Secretary of War William Howard Taft (a former member of the old University Club) presiding. The Club’s first president was Edward H. Ernst (Princeton, 1882), whose efforts, leadership, and personality set the culture of hospitality and congeniality.
From January 30, 1907 the Board of Managers decided that the William Wallace Seely house at 401 E 4th Street would be the best location. The Club House was acquired through the generosity of Charles Phelps Taft, the President of the old University Club and President of the revived Club from 1913 to 1929. The present footprint of the Club is the expanded houses of Snowden Smith and the Seely residence, which shared a party wall.
Membership peaked in the 1920s, dipped then sustained high levels post WWII through the 1970s, and late 80s, to an all-time high of 740 in 1991. Our current membership is capped at 650. The Club House’s alteration and renovation to satisfy the Club’s changing needs continues. The Club House reflects the growing interests and requirements of the Club members: