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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Waukegan Bachelors' Club

In 1891, a group of Waukegan businessmen formed the Waukegan Bachelors' Club—a men's club for social and "improvement" reasons.

Members included the elite of Waukegan such as future mayor, Dr. William Pearce, banker Theodore Durst, general store proprietor George Warren, and county clerk Lew Hendee.

(Lew Hendee photographed about 1910, LCDM 94.34.220).

The founding members purchased property on the east side of Third Lake and built a clubhouse with eight bedrooms, a large gathering room with a piano, and a large kitchen.

Opening Day photo, June 14, 1903.

"Opening Day" was usually held on a Sunday in June. According to an invitation sent by Lew Hendee and other members, the event began at 4 a.m. and continued until it was "time to go to work the following day."

The bachelors decided the fate of one of their own at that first meeting each year. According to Dr. Pearce, "a candidate was selected by ballot to make a proposal for marriage that year. Some took the verdict good naturedly, others became terror stricken, but before the year had elapsed they have, thus far, persuaded some trusting damsel to share their fortunes."

A view of the clubhouse and members, circa 1908.

Even after the men married, they remained dues-paying members to help with the property taxes on the clubhouse. The club also held a Family Day when bachelors could bring their girlfriends, and the married men could bring their wives and children for a picnic.

The bachelors hosted exclusive parties, but also spent a good deal of time outdoors fishing, boating, hunting, and even had a baseball team.

The bachelors on an outing to the Mineola Hotel, Fox Lake, circa 1907.

As time went on, more of the men married and interest in the club declined. By the 1920s, there were only a handful of members, and they purchased the land and subdivided it.

In 1905, Lew Hendee ended his bachelor days by marrying Miss Lila Favor.

1 comment:

D_Dretske said...

Connie H. -- I believe you sent a comment about this post, but I managed to delete it rather than publish it. If you are related to Lew Hendee, just wanted you to know that the museum has a number of photos of Lew, some taken in his office at the county building by Bess Bower Dunn. Thanks!