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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin
(1997)

University Club,   pp. 144-147


Page 147

life of the club. They go on to argue that the club is worth saving on several grounds and that the only
way known to accomplish that is by University ownership.
The recommendations of the committee are first that the university accept title to the univer-
sity club and that voluntary membership dues be set at 3/4 of 1% of salary per year, and second that if
voluntary membership fails to adequately support the club the regents have the permission of the
faculty to make membership mandatory under substantially the same terms. With only minor alter-
ations, the resolutions as presented by the committee were adopted by a vote of 162 to 46. The
minority sent a petition to the regents asking them to reject the recommendation of the faculty.
When the board of regents met on April 27, 1933 to consider the matter, they moved to
accept the arrangement on the terms of the faculty action, but the vote was nine to four against and
the motion was lost. The regents then called professor Kiekhofer to speak, and after further discus-
sion another vote was taken and carried. The new arrangement worked well. The removal of the tax
and utility burdens and maintenance costs from club membership made financial solvency possible.
Membership was reported at 500 with 70 residents in 1935. All barriers against the use or member-
ship in the club by women were eliminated (Helen C. White became club president in 1933). The
difficulties remained with the attempts to run a profitable hotel and restaurant. There is no record that
the mandatory membership threat was ever carried out.
A sordid affair took place during the war when an English instructor applied for and got, by
mail, membership to live at the club. What was not evident until Arthur Burke showed up at the club
in October of 1944, was that Arthur Burke was black. The clubhouse committee refused to let Burke
complete paperwork for membership. After cries of outrage from campus groups, some national
notice from Time Magazine, and a formal vote by club members, Burke was allowed to reapply and
the color barrier was eliminated.9 The 1950s passed without much incident.
In the 1960s talk began to be heard about anachronisms, efficiency and quiet interment.
Sentiment and the continuance of useful function continued to protect the club from fans of effi-
ciency, and from those who looked covetously upon the prime real estate occupied by the club. Then
in early 1967 the club directors met with the chancellor and proposed another arrangement that
would help both sides. The club would receive $25,000 for needed remodelling (this is probably the
point at which the original leaded glass was removed) and the dining rooms would be catered by the
Memorial Union kitchens. The University would take over as badly needed office space all the resi-
dence rooms in the south wing of the clubhouse and all of the upper floors. The club was allowed to
keep all the space on the two lowest levels, the basement and ground floor. The club also obtained
permission to serve liquor. Today [1993] the club is running in the black again with about 850 mem-
bers, with considerably relaxed admission requirements. The club again has its own kitchen and
cooks. The old building is still in decent repair, and the old dormitory wing houses student financial
aid offices and other university offices. 10
1) Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, February/March 1908 p. 197, March 1906, p. 249.
2)_Daily Cardinal, February 21, 1907
3) Regent's Minutes, April 17, 1907; Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, February/March 1908.
4) Perspectives of A University, Gordon Off, et al.
5) Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet collection, Pam 56-4815, Arthur Peabody.
6) Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet collection, Pam 56-4816.
7) Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet collection, Pam 56-4816.
8) Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet collection, F902/8UN.
9) Cronon and Jenkins: The University of Wisconsin, A History, pp. 679-80; The Daily Cardinal, November 1, 1944,
October 24, 1944.
10) Sites to State Building Commission, October 29, 1969, University Club Criteria for Office Use, July 24, 1969,
series 24/9/2-1 box 18.


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