The Manchester Club was organized on August 4, 1905 following a meeting held at the office of George E. Willmonton by of a group of interested citizens. A constitution and by-laws were formulated and a nominating committee was appointed to name its first board of officers. On September 11, of that year the Club was instituted with a charter list of forty-one members. Frederick J. Merrill was elected as its first President; Horace Standley, Vice President; Oscar B. Wing, Collector and Treasurer; Percy Wheaton, Secretary and Frank G. Cheever, Auditor.
The Manchester Club has been referred to as an outgrowth of the former Winthrop Club, which was formed around 1890, and was in turn an outgrowth of the former Seaside Athletic Club. The Winthrop Club was active and took a large part in formulating the plan for the 250th Anniversary Celebration of the Town of Manchester. It occupied rooms over the old Police Station now known as Seaside One. The club was a social club and always very active in producing entertainments, being famous for their minstrel shows, as well as taking part in all town celebrations. Just after the turn of the century, their quarters became too small and a more active organization seemed desirable. Disagreement ensued about where to relocate and in which direction the organization would take. As a result, the Manchester Club was organized. Quarters were leased in the Blaisdell Block and occupied almost immediately. The Quarters included a large reading or social room, a large billiard room, card room and kitchenette that were all fully and comfortably furnished. In the course of time, a player piano and a modern radio were installed. The library table was always supplied with the daily papers and all the popular current literature of the day. These quarters answered their purpose exceedingly well and were occupied by the Club continuously for forty-five years.
In 1950 at the April meeting of the Club, the members decided to give up these rooms and to carry on the club on a one or two meeting a month basis in a rented hall. This move was motivated by the increasing expenses of the Club and the waning interest among the membership. On a Friday evening in June of 1950, the Club held its first meeting in Horticultural Hall, with an interesting program of Industrial and Travel films were shown for the enjoyment of the members. Since that time much interest has been shown in the Club and its membership has grown to over three hundred men with a healthy waiting list of others.
The Thirty-Fifth Anniversary of the Club was observed and duly celebrated on December 21,1940, with the principal speaker being the late Col. Raymond C. Allen. President of the Club at this time was Harry E. Slade, Jr. Shortly thereafter, many of the ClubÂ’s members went to the defense of their country in World War II as did many others in the First World War. The Service Flag which flew in front of the Club rooms in 1945 contained forty-five stars, indicating the number of members that were in the military during that time. Two of them made the supreme sacrifice: Lt. John D. Kelleher, U.S. Navy, and Pvt. John H. Gavin, Jr., U.S. Army. During World War I, the Club sent six residents and five non-resident members to the battlefields. The Club discharged one obligation by sending each one in the service a suitable gift at Christmas. The returning veterans and those left behind were honored on April 30, 1946, when an Honor Roll was unveiled with the names of 42 members on it, including two stars for Lt. Kelleher and Pvt. Gavin. On Saturday, August 11, 1945, the Club held an outing and Ladies’ Day at Tuck’s Point in celebration of its Fortieth Anniversary. A catered dinner was served and Judge Edward Morley presided as Toastmaster. There were five of the original charter members present, including Henry S. Tappan, Maynard B. Gilman, F. Clifford Rand, Joseph N. Lipman, and Isaac M. Marshall, who each gave an historical address. It was a highly enjoyable and successful occasion. In the early history of the Organization, there were several Ladies’ Nights held which were eminently successful and became annual affairs for several years. For many years the Annual Banquet and other festivities were held in the Town Hall. Frequent suppers for members were held in their quarters during this time and were augmented with entertainment and speakers.
The Club has always taken an active interest in matters of a public nature, and was frequently successful in winning awards for entries in the Town’s Fourth of July Parade and other celebrations. For many years the Club took interest in youth movements and helped to sponsor football, baseball, and basketball as well as providing wanted uniforms and other equipment. For several years the High School football season was opened or closed with a banquet, sponsored by the Club, at Horticultural Hall, which was always largely attended and given a most enthusiastic reception by the people of Manchester. The Club was also the first to sponsor the Town Lighting at Christmas. For a time it also sponsored the Town’s entry in the Inter-Town Twilight Baseball League. Previous writings highlight the 1945 team, which emerged as champions. The Club has had a very successful and useful existence and has played a vital role in the life and well being of the Town, always in a highly credible spirit.
On December 16, 1955 a Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration was held at Horticultural Hall on Summer Street. President Reginald E. Proulx was general chairman of the committee in charge of the anniversary celebration. His committee included: L. Allan Andrews, Clifton L. Burke, Daniel A. Curran, Philip W. Deady, Franklin G. Diggdon, Alfred S. Doane, James R. Hatcher, Charles F. Mathews, Jr., John A. Milner, Jeremiah J. Noonan, Jr., J. Eugene Parady, Donald U. Patton, George C. Rice, Clayton. L. Robinson, Benjamin J. Satsiak, and P. Edward Sweeney. The hall was attractively decorated with a large Christmas tree on the stage and streamers of red, green and white were draped across it. The head table had a small Christmas tree centerpiece with a poinsettia cloth and each lady guest was presented with a corsage. The program began at six oÂ’clock pm with a social hour in the Lower Hall. A Buffet Supper was served in the Upper hall promptly at seven fifteen, and consisted of Lobster Newburg, toast points, ham-potato salad, chips, rolls, butter, green salad and a relish dish. Desert was a plenty and included assorted ice creams, brownies, cake, macaroons and coffee.
After dinner, President Proulx welcomed the members and led them in singing the Star Spangled Banner. Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Eric H. Ericson, Jr. then offered greetings from the Town. Harry E. Slade, Sr. followed with remarks. In attendance was Frank A. Foster of Bell’s Court, the only living charter member of the Club at the time, who was paid a fine tribute by the guest speaker. A Vocal program was then heard, and member Cahoon sang “He” and then along with his wife concluded it with the singing of “Holy Night”. General dancing, to the delightful music of Allie Eaton and his Orchestra, continued and brought the very enjoyable party to a close. Thus, the Club closed out its fiftieth year.
In 1957 the Club relinquished its sponsorship of the Town Baseball Team and transferred it to the Manchester Athletic Association. In addition to their monthly meetings and “Ladies’ Nights”, the Club also sponsored a Family Picnic. It was held at Tuck’s Point during July or August for all the members and their families and included games for the kiddies and a clambake for all. According to the records of the secretary, the Club discontinued this event in 1963 due to poor attendance. At the December meeting, it was noted by the membership that the “Punch Bowl”, used only for special occasions, had been in the possession of the Club for 52 years and was stored in the Legion Home. The bowl was to be available for special events held by the Club.
Nineteen fifty-eight was a typical year for the Club with the usual Ladies’ Night and Family Picnic. At the May 21st meeting, P. Edward Sweeney was called forth to receive a Scroll of Appreciation for his many years of service and unselfish contributions to the Club. The scroll reads as follows: “As a token of our affection for P. Edward Sweeney for his years of service to the Manchester Club in his many and varied capacities, the members of the aforesaid Club have unanimously directed the undersigned to prepare this scroll of recognition for his unselfish contributions towards its continued prosperity. His warm personality, friendly attitude and generous nature have made an everlasting and indelible impression on the Manchester Club. In recognition of our esteem, we recommend a copy of this scroll be Permanently inscribed in the records of the Manchester Club. Benjamin J. Stasiak, Chairman; Hollis A. Bell; John A. Milner; George C. Rice, President May 21, 1958Â”. In 1959, the Club had one of its most interesting and timely speakers, Col. W. Bruce Pirnie who spoke at the October 15th meeting. He gave a most revealing talk on Communism. Also at this meeting, the Club honored Bruce LeSeine for his tireless efforts for the Club.
At the annual meeting of January 21, 1960, the Club voted to start an annual Scholarship award in the amount of $100.00 to be given annually to a boy graduating from Story High and going on to higher education. The Scholarship was to be given in the name of Police Chief L. Allen Andrews but he requested that it be given in the name of the Club. The first scholarship was awarded to David A. Curren, now a Roman Catholic priest. At the April 21st meeting, the Club Sponsored a Dial Telephone Night which was open to the townspeople to instruct all in the use of the new phones. The Club continued their monthly dinners and Ladies’ Nights and along with the Amaral-Bailey Post 113, American Legion, made the move from the old “Legion Hall” into their present Legion Building in 1962. In 1965, the membership voted to increase the annual civic fund scholarship to $150.00. The May 15, 1969 meeting was significant as the second Â“ScrollÂ” the Club has given was presented to Harry E. Slade, Sr. He was honored for 55 years of service to the Club, and a copy of the scroll was permanently inscribed in the records of the Manchester Club. A rare treat at the regular meeting of November of that year was a performance by the Banjo Band from SweeneyÂ’s Gay Nineties. This was enjoyed by all present. Also at this meeting, the membership voted to donate $100.00 to the Congregational Church Steeple Fund, as it has been a town landmark for many, many years. As is the case of all members who pass away, the Club will stand in a moment of silence before the business meeting and so honor their departed friends. Upon the death of Alfred S. Doane in 1970, a then officer of the Club, the Executive Committee honored him by making a monetary donation to a scholarship fund set up previously by another organization. They also made a contribution to St. Mark’s School in the name of General Gilpin Ervin who had also passed away. At the time, a note of
sympathy was sent to the family of the deceased and was noted that a donation has been made in his name to a charitable organization. The Club holds annual elections in January of each year, and 1971 was of significance. Donald R. Doane was re-elected President, something that has occurred only eight times in the seventy-five year history of the Club, and Chief L. Allen Andrews was voted a Life Member of the Club, having served as the Secretary-Treasurer for 22 years.
In 1975, Daniel B. Slade updated the ClubÂ’s History of the past twenty years and those notes were printed in the March 28, 1975 edition of The Manchester Cricket. Nineteen seventy-six was a big year all across the United States for it was the 200th anniversary of the country. In that year the Club gave its annual scholarship to three deserving Manchester High School students, each one receiving $600.00. Many interesting speakers have been heard at our meetings and 1976 was no exception. Among them were John Marco, the trick pool shooter; Dr. Sam Ina presented a slide show of the great fire that leveled the Oceanside Hotel in Magnolia; Captain Swanson from Beverly showed a film on Op Sail 1976 and George O’Hare spoke about the New England Telephone Co. In 1977 the Club voted to accept the revisions to the by-laws with regards to awarding of the annual scholarships. The first young woman to ever receive a scholarship award from the Club was presented to Miss Robin Burbank. Also in May of that year, former General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, Dick O’Connell was the guest speaker. He gave the Club a real insight into the world of the “big leagues”. In 1978 many more interesting speakers were heard. Included was Petty Officer Harold Deihl from the Gloucester Coast Guard station; Captain Kenneth Eis from the Solar Radio Observatory at Sagamore Hill in South Hamilton, who described the duties of our government’s operation there and Deputy Chief Don Jeffrey from Logan International Airport spoke about fire control at the NationÂ’s airports. Due to a sudden storm that hit the area, the annual meeting and elections for 1979 were almost postponed until February of that year by the Executive Committee. However, within an hour the storm cleared and forty members and their guests attended and were fed a delicious meal and shown films of the 1974 Chelsea Fire. Written into the records on that date by then Secretary L. Allan Andrews was that all meetings will be held as scheduled whether one or one hundred show. In 1979 there were many interesting speakers including our own Fred Nataloni and the Gavin Brothers who spoke about their Skydiving routine. Many prominent members passed away that year, including Secretary Andrews, and two other past presidents: William Haverty and Vincent Doucette. L. Allan Andrews had been Secretary-Treasurer for twenty six years before he passed away that April. In September the Executive Board set the date for the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Club which the late Andrews had been instrumental in the planning of. Because of his long and devoted service to the Club, an oil portrait of him was commissioned, to be completed by Isabel LaFreniere.
The highlight for the year 1980 was the aforementioned Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Celebration and Ladies Night. The gala was held at the Parish Hall of the Sacred Heart Church on School St. The Invocation was given by the Reverend Cornelius Harrington who was Pastor at the time. Master of Ceremonies for this special evening was Club President William Â“BillÂ” Filias. After his welcoming remarks he introduced the invited guests; they were Mary (Mrs. L. Allan) Andrews of Pine St., Nathaniel Andrews, Selectman Charles E. Logue and Isabel LaFreniere. President Filias, along with Mrs. Andrews, then unveiled the oil portrait in honor of Allan. Vice President Edward Â“EdÂ” Elder then introduced Ms. LaFreniere to the group and thanked her for such a wonderful job. President Filias closed the presentation with his remarks on AllanÂ’s service to the Club, and then turned the podium over to Selectman Logue who offered greetings from the Town and accepted the painting which was to be hung in the Town Hall. Other invited guests included Mrs. Nathaniel Andrews, Mrs. Charles E. Logue, Chief & Mrs. Felix Radack, Mrs. Louise Lane, Reverend James Hay and Reverend William Britton. The evening then progressed with a delicious repast and dancing. Dinner included a fresh fruit cup, Roast Rump of Heavy Steer Beef with brown gravy, roasted potatoes, Italian green beans, scalloped oysters, banana fritters with cherry sauce, garden salad, rolls and creamery butter. Desert consisted of Spumoni with Claret sauce, assorted cookies and coffee. Dinner was prepared by Ed Elder, Robert Hoff and their committee. This was the first occasion that included the ladies since 1972. The celebration was sponsored by a number of local businesses who placed ads in the eveningÂ’s program book. Some of the more notable ones that were no longer in business at the time of the ClubÂ’s Hundredth Anniversary included The Surf Restaurant of Magnolia, Conti Coiffeurs, HooperÂ’s Grocery, The Gourmet Shop, Nat Andrews Plumbing, and Manchester Electric Company (the original company that provided power to the Town). There was also Amalia Tree Surgeons, Table Four Restaurant, Grimes Landscape Corp., Doucette Contracting Co., Inc., BrownÂ’s Market & Laundromat, Cape Ann Bank and Trust Co., Filias Bros./B & D Sheet Metal, Inc., Axel Magnuson Florists, Eric H. Wetterlow & Sons Florist, BillÂ’s TV, George S. Mollison Furniture, Magnolia Gulf and RaymondÂ’s Cleaners. BullockÂ’s Liquors, PeggyÂ’s Sub Shop and Parkhurst Garage round out the list.
In addition to President Filias and Vice President Elder, the Executive Committee in 1980 also included Treasurer James R. Hatcher, Secretary Daniel B. Slade, Roger DiNapoli, Edward Scott, Richard Â“RitÂ” Doucette, Edward Burgess and Robert Hoff. Another noteworthy happening was the Past Presidents Night, held March twentieth of that year. All active and living Past Presidents of the Club were honored on this evening and presented with a plaque and a gavel inscribed with their name and year in office.
In the 1980’s the Manchester Club continued with its programs and civic duties including the monthly dinners and awarding of scholarships to high school graduates. In October of 1985 the ClubÂ’s eightieth anniversary was celebrated with a dinner dance. Some of the interesting speakers in the 1980’s included; Boston Bruins hockey player Terry O’Reilly; Bruins Public Relations Director Nate Greenburg; Past President Dan Slade, who spoke about the history of the “Manchester Cricket” and Club member Lee Gates who spoke of his diving experience off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Over the years there have been five sets of brothers who have served as Club President. Most recently were the Scotts (Ed in 1985 and Bill in 1990) and the McCoyÂ’s (Craige in 1971 and Laurie in 1989). Some of the highlighted speakers of the 1990’s include State Fire Marshall Joseph O’Keefe, Congressman Nicholas Mavroules, Manchester Football Coach Fran York, Judge David Harrison, and Boston Globe Columnist Jeremiah Murphy. In 1996 Past President Richard Lysiak was presented with a plaque for his many years of service and generous spirit toward the Manchester Club. In 1999 a plaque was presented to Daniel B. Slade Jr. in recognition of his twenty years of service as Secretary of the Club.
At the turn of another century, The Manchester Club continued to be a strong, civic minded organization. The first five years of the new millennium proved to be fruitful with membership increasing each year. Some of the monthly speakers included member Dr. Ira Evans, State Senator Bruce Tarr and Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, who spoke to capacity crowds at the Legion Hall. In 2003 the Club suffered the loss of its treasurer, James R. “Jimmy” Hatcher. He had served in that capacity for over twenty five years, a service record obtained by only a few. He was also a Past President (1977). In his honor, the Club voted to name the civic fund raffle after him because of his tireless devotion to it. The Jimmy Hatcher Scholarship Fund raffle is held each year during the month of May and since its inception in 1960, over one hundred thousand dollars had been awarded to more than two hundred local high school graduates. The 100th Anniversary of the Club was a Black Tie event held at the Singing Beach Club on Saturday May 14, 2005. It was a beautiful late spring evening with a hint of summer in the air. The members arrived in timely fashion, and for the first time since 1979, in the accompaniment of their Ladies. The evening began with an open bar, followed by a welcoming address by Gala Committee Chairman A. Craige McCoy, followed by remarks from President Thomas Andrews Jr. After a healthy cocktail hour, a delicious gourmet dinner was served buffet style, which was enjoyed by all. The highlight of meal was a molten chocolate fountain complete with the freshest giant strawberries for dipping. Although it was slightly controversial in the eyes of the Executive Board, chairman McCoyÂ’s persistence proved to be worthwhile. Live music by the Russ McQueen Orchestra of North Andover then filled the air and dancing, lively conversation and much fun was had by all in attendance. It was said around thereafter that the 100th Anniversary Gala was the best event held in Manchester in many a year.
Congratulations on a job well done were given at the September meeting that year to Chairman McCoy and his Committee, including Bob Ryan, Bill Scott, Tom Kehoe, Dick Lysiak, Joe OÂ’Malley, David Slade, Carl Doane and Tyke Needham. Officers of the Cub on this 100th year were Thomas Andrews, Jr., President; Christopher G. Brown, VP; A. Craige McCoy, Secretary; William Scott, Treasurer; Robert Ryan, Board Chairman; Directors John Marletta, David Towle, Jeffrey Gilson, John Herrick Sr. and John C. Filias.
During the past 100 years members of the Manchester Club have been an active, civic-minded group and will continue to carry on the very fine reputation that our founders and forefathers have instituted. Club members have enjoyed many fine meals and informative speakers while enjoying the company of a diverse and friendly group of men. HereÂ’s to the next 100 years!
The History of the Manchester Club was originally written for the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Celebration and appeared in its entirety in the program for the evening. It was reprinted again for the One Hundredth Anniversary Gala. The text was added to and edited in May of 2007 by Executive Committee Member John C. Filias.