This building housed an all-male private club established in 1867. Hundreds of the city's most prominent business owners and bankers were members during the first century of its operation, until it started expanding its membership criteria in the 1960s. The structure itself is a fine example of the Georgian Revival style, designed by local architects Whidden & Lewis. The Arlington Clubhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 2010.
Arlington Club was founded as an elite male society, inspired by the
gentleman’s clubs in vogue during the late 19th Century in London’s
West End. Portland was still a developing city, having only been established on
the western bank of the Willamette River by settlers of the Oregon Trail in the
early 1840s. By the 1859 – when Oregon was admitted into the Union – the city
had grown to a population of about eight hundred, at which point various groups
emerged differentiated by their wealth and social status. Up until the present
day, the clubhouse has served as a center for social gatherings between
bankers, lawyers, utility and business leaders, and railroad moguls.
society was first conceived by thirty five local business and community leaders
in December, 1867. They wished to create an all-male, socially segregated
institution at which the elite of Portland could socialize, relax, and
communicate with one another about the development of the city. Their first
meeting house was located at the J.C. Ainsworth House on Third and Pine, but in
1888 the members decided to fund a permanent club building. This was located at
West Park and Alder, and featured a four-lane bowling alley, coffee shop,
billiard room, and library.
The list of
founding members had around one hundred names, but by 1908 membership had grown
to more than four hundred. Using membership fees (amounting to $200 per
entrance, per night) the club funded the construction of a new, larger
structure at which they could hold their meetings. The building was designed by
Whidden & Lewis, an architectural firm managed by William Marcy Whidden and
Ion Lewis, who are also well-known for having constructed the City Hall and the
Multnomah County Courthouse. Construction finished in 1910, at a cost of $254,000,
during the heyday of the Lewis and Clark Exposition period of development. The
building itself is four stories tall, made of brick and terra cotta. It was
constructed in a neo-classical style.
was strictly reserved for the city’s elite males. Although they were permitted
to bring female guests into the club each Wednesday evening in the month of
May, women were not allowed become members or be admitted to the building at
other times. However, as the city grew in size and demographic diversity the
Arlington Club began to invite more social groups to attend its social
gatherings. It was only in 1990 that members voted to allow women to join the
society, the first of whom was admitted in March the following year. In 2010
the first female president of the society was elected, in the build up to the
centenary celebration of the club’s founding.
the center of Portland’s cultural district, the Arlington Club continues to act
as a non-profit meeting place for the city’s most prosperous business leaders. The
mission of the society remains unchanged; it is a place where one can “fraternize
for mutual enjoyment and relaxation and which provides a “meeting place
for discussing their own and Portland's destiny. Members visiting the
city can rent overnight accommodation at the clubhouse.