The Manchester Club is a unique local institution. And that local institution got its lead out Saturday with a 115th Anniversary Cruise with an open bar, great music, and a delectable feast aboard the Beauport Princess.
The picture-perfect summer evening was a plus.
Everyone came out to celebrate this historic milestone. True to form, the party pulled a wide representation of locals. All ages. All political leanings. All social perches. All were welcome. (Especially former Club President Jeff Gilson, who after being stuck in 128 traffic, raced into the parking lot and quick-changed into party attire to the yelps of those already aboard the boat that happily waited for him.)
Actually, the superb birthday celebration (organized by the “E” board, led by Craige McCoy and Bob Ryan) took place exactly after its original schedule, due to last year’s COVID shutdown. The fraternal club was founded in 1905 as “a club, a proper hangout, for just 70 men,” according to the August, 1905 edition of the Cricket. The organizers included names like FJ Merill, Horace Stadley, Franklin K. Hooper, Raymond C. Allen, Oliver T. Roberts, James Hoare, Alfred C. Needham, IM Marshall (the Cricket’s founding publisher), JA Lodge, and George E. Willmonton. Two months later, when it officially opened at its meeting space (originally Mr. Willmonton’s office at Union Street’s “Pulsifer Block,” where J. Barrett Realty is today) there were already 60 charter members. So, the club expanded membership—from 70 to 75.
“The club has a membership of 75 of the best men in town,” declared the Cricket’s “What I See And Hear” column. It’s “where they can meet socially and be provided with the best magazines and papers. Where they can enjoy a social game of billiards away from the contaminating influence of the grog shop and with good associates and influence.”
For decades after its founding, the club would report in on its monthly dinners, and picnics and gatherings. Today’s Manchester Club is not too different from that original vision. Great food and guys getting together to enjoy what they love: friendship, community, a good feed, and whole lot of joviality. Congratulations on 115 (plus one) years.