The Town Club

Member Login


The Town Club History


When T. H. Spence, one of the original founders of The Town Club, began raising the needed funds to finance his dream in 1899, he sold his idea as "a gathering place for tennis, ice skating, squash, bowling and parties . . . a place children could come and be watched . . . an 'in-town' club near everyone's home". 

 Young Spence, who later headed the law firm of Quarles, Spence and Quarles, secured the necessary cash to buy property and build facilities on North Farwell Avenue by ringing the doorbells of friends and neighbors on nearby Prospect Avenue.  His fellow organizers were George H. Noyes, John Johnston, William D. Van Dyke and Oliver C. Fuller. 

 Their efforts were prompted by the demise of the Milwaukee Lawn Tennis Club (photo top left) which had flourished during the 1880's and '90s on North Prospect Avenue and East Kane Place.  When the land there was sold for real estate development, these five gentlemen spurred the organization of The Town Club to continue the tennis activities as well as to expand the potential usage of the facilities.



 

Among the other original members of the Club were Louis Allis, C. C. Russell, Fred Pabst, Arthur N. McGeoch, J. H. Marshutz, Stuart Markham, F. H. Lindsay, Alfred F. James, Wheeler Bloodgood, James W. Bradley, A. K. Camp, Edward Dewey, Herman Falk, George P. Earling, Grant Fitch, E. J. Furlong, K. K. Kerman, Frederick Layton, George P. Miller, L. W. Nieman, Ludington Patton, Charles Pfister, W. C. Quarles, E. P. Sherry, F. L. Sivyer, Clement C. Smith, Fred Vogel, Jr., F. L. Vance, General Charles King and Dr. C. E. Albright. 

The original Town Club facilities, which opened for business in 1901, included four tennis courts, two squash courts and bowling alleys, as well as a lounge, cocktail lounge and ballroom.  According to the program distributed by the Club at the 1904 Annual Wisconsin Open Tennis Championships, the tennis courts were of "clay composition with a very (hard) fast surface".  That same program also indicated that the facilities of the club "included bowling alleys, billiards, plunge tank, baths, cafe, etc. . . .". In the wintertime, the tennis courts were flooded for use as a skating rink.  The bowling alleys, however, were seldom used and the indoor swimming pool proved unsatisfactory and later was eliminated to provide more locker space.



 

Not all of the activities at the original Town Club were centered around athletic interests.  It was the place in the early 1900's where beautiful cotillions, receptions and balls of that era were held.  Perhaps typical of the times was a Club sponsored "Grand Vaudeville and Living Picture Extravaganza" on February 16, 1904.  An all-star cast of living models was directed by Sherburn Becker, who became Mayor of Milwaukee two years later.  The models were daughters of Milwaukee's leading families outfitted as young ladies of varying nationalities and position.  According to the records of the same event, two gentlemen passed among the audience during the intermission, selling licorice drops and chewing gum for the benefit of a memorial tablet for a bowling team.  The dinner served that evening cost 75 cents and included lobster ala Newburg, olives, French rolls, fruit salad ala mayonnaise, sandwiches, ice cream, cake and coffee.
 


The Town Club also featured a series of Friday Night Porch Concerts which commenced on August 25, 1905.  As indicated in the announcement that year to the membership, "effort has been made to secure artists of well established reputation and high musical ability, and it is confidently hoped that the entertainment will be both interesting and pleasing".  The Club's tennis and social activities continued at the North Farwell Avenue location for over a half century.

Not all of the activities at the original Town Club were centered around athletic interests.  It was the place in the early 1900's where beautiful cotillions, receptions and balls of that era were held.  Perhaps typical of the times was a Club sponsored "Grand Vaudeville and Living Picture Extravaganza" on February 16, 1904.  An all-star cast of living models was directed by Sherburn Becker, who became Mayor of Milwaukee two years later.  The models were daughters of Milwaukee's leading families outfitted as young ladies of varying nationalities and position.  According to the records of the same event, two gentlemen passed among the audience during the intermission, selling licorice drops and chewing gum for the benefit of a memorial tablet for a bowling team.  The dinner served that evening cost 75 cents and included lobster ala Newburg, olives, French rolls, fruit salad ala mayonnaise, sandwiches, ice cream, cake and coffee.
 


The Town Club also featured a series of Friday Night Porch Concerts which commenced on August 25, 1905.  As indicated in the announcement that year to the membership, "effort has been made to secure artists of well established reputation and high musical ability, and it is confidently hoped that the entertainment will be both interesting and pleasing".  The Club's tennis and social activities continued at the North Farwell Avenue location for over a half century.