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The Harvard Club of Boston


Two hundred and seventy two years following the "smalle beginnings" in the Cow Pasture across the Charles River, a group of Harvard Alumni from the Boston area made the smalle beginninges of the Harvard Club of Boston. This was more than forty years after New York alumni, over 200 miles from the home college, had first assembled to strengthen the silver cord to their Alma Mater.

The group incorporated themselves under the name of the Harvard Club of Boston "for the purpose of promoting social intercourse among its members, fostering the Harvard spirit in all Harvard spirit in all Harvard men, advancing the interests and promoting the welfare of Harvard University. . . . " Five years later, the Club was well underway, and moved into the large Club-house at 374 Commonwealth Avenue which it still occupies today.

At that time, the Club drew largely from the Commonwealth Avenue, set of the Boston populus; today, that set has exurbed itself to the currently more fashionable surrounding communities, but the atmosphere of the Club remains largely the same, except for the introduction of fairly sizable numbers of undergraduates and young alumni. If you were to drop in in the late afternoon, you would still find remnants of old Boston enthroned in the same leather chairs they have used for decades. There is no mistaking the fact that a club is a club, and the Harvard Club is no exception.

The whole building smacks of clubness and Harvard, from the pheasants in the kitchen freezer waiting their turn to appear under glass, to the dozen squash courts and the manly bar. The first floor has the traditional reading room, liberally stocked with newspapers and magazines. Beyond it is the hall with its traditional back-gammon tables so popular with club members. Filling out most of the rest of the Floor with its enormous dimensions (50'X100'X3 1/2 stories) is Harvard Hall with its traditional chandeliers.

Pride for a Pipe Organ

The Hall is the pride of many of the members, particularly because it is the home of one of the largest pipe organs in New England, implanted high on the side wall. It's not used very much or for anything in particular, but it's there to talk about.

The Hall is used for breakfast and lunch every day, and often for evening dinners, lectures, and films. Twice a month there are Ladies Nights in the Hall, usually consisting of dinner followed by a lecture or film of some sort. Although the Hall has served as many as 500 at a banquet, there are rarely more than 200 a day for lunch, and 15 to 20 for breakfast. The Club also rents the second floor of Purcell's Restaurant for luncheon; members may sign their checks just as at the Club.

Moving onto the second floor, we find a number of "function rooms" and a library. The rooms are used mainly for private parties, class reunions, club meetings, last-night-before-the-ceremony bachelor parties, and final club dinners. There are a number of small, good-fellow clubs which hold regular meetings there, such as the "Goose and Jim," "The Ticker Tape Trust," the "Sangerfest," and the "Harvard Travellers." The function rooms are also a good place to have parties if you are not a member of a final club, one member confided.

The third floor has more "function rooms" including the crew room, and the Estabrooks room where the recent meeting of the brain trust behind the "Program for Harvard College" met.

The two top floors contain a number of bedrooms for visiting members and the 20-odd permanent residents of the Club. Since the Club does not have a very large non-resident membership (about 1000 out of the 3890 total membership), the hotel part is not usually filled. The rooms are mostly singles and doubles; there are only three rooms for married couples. All the walls are covered with old prints of the College.

Freezer for Pheasant

Adjacent to the main building is the Annex, the first floor of which is devoted to the Ladies' Cocktail Lounge and Dining Room. The popular Sunday night buffet suppers are held in this building. The second floor is rented to the Junior League of Boston, and the third and fourth floors are used as part of the Club's hotel facilities, containing additional bedrooms.

In the basement of the Main building, which is closed entirely to the Ladies, there are a bar and the men's grill which serves dinners. Both are frequented largely by the younger set. Further on, there are a game room, a TurkishSteam bath, a masseur, locker rooms, the Squash court lounge with its television set, 11 singles and 1 doubles squash courts (reportedly the only one in the Boston area) and a deep freezer, often used for stocking the game bagged by club members.

In relation to the University, the Club's most important function, aside from fanning old loyalties, is performed by the Harvard Club of Boston Foundation, which handles the Club's scholarship program. This year the program is sponsoring 16 freshmen and a number of upperclassmen. Among the upperclassmen, mirable dictu, there are many athletes. The committee works in close co-operation with the Admission and Scholarship offices here, and, from a list of 250 prospective Freshmen, selects some 20 to interview. Of these, about6Two older members of the Club relax in the first floor reading room.

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