201 Market Street
Warren, PA 16365
Tel 814-723-6250
Fax 814-723-2320

Mon - Fri
11:00am - 2:00pm
Wed, Fri & Sat
5:30pm - 9:00pm

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History Teemed with Tradition

The Northwest corner of Market Street and Second Avenue, now the site of the Conewango Club, was known to the old inhabitants of Warren as the John F. Davis corner. It was in a little white house, which stood on the corner that the Conewango Club held its first meeting in 1896.

Mr. Edward D. Wetmore, of the founders of the Club, had acquired title to the little white house and property. In consulting with Judge William E. S. Rice one day regarding this property, Mr. Wetmore tells how "... we decided then and there that Warren has passed the cracker-barrel stage and should have a gentlemen's club, and that the little white house was suitable for such a clubhouse. We made a list of twelve men, and invited them to meet in the little white house a few evenings later. I tacked newspapers up on the windows and found soapboxes and nail kegs to serve as chairs. Mr. F. H. Rockwell was elected President; Mr. R. F. Van Doorn, Secretary; and Mr. F. E. Hertzel, Treasurer. Each man subscribed $125 to provide furniture and a billiard table. It was agreed that if after the first year it was founded, the Club did not fill a need in the community, the founders would charge off their subscriptions and end the enterprise..."

The Twelve Men – the Founding Members of the Conewango Club – who attended that first meeting described by Mr. Wetmore, were...

E. D. Wetmore, J. B. Mullen F. H. Rockwell, S. G. Allen, W. H. Filler, J. P. Jefferson, W. H. Allen, F. E. Hertzel, A. T. Schofield, W. E. Rice, W. A. Talbott, R. F. Van Doorn

Far from ending, however, was the Club after its first year of existence. And four years after its founding, the Conewango Club was established on a solid foundation and chartered in 1900. In 1906, the handsome present Club building supplanted the little white house on the corner of Market Street and Second Avenue. Several years later, the new building was gutted by fire, and while the work of restoration was carried on, the Club continued in the old Henry home, which at that time stood on the site now occupied by the Public Library.

In all the intervening years, through good times and bad, and through the desperately threatening days of the "early thirties" – when the Club membership dropped to only 69 members – the Conewango Club has continued to fill a need in our community. Now, on the occasion of its Sixtieth Anniversary, with the membership of the Club complete, it is appropriate to give a silent toast to those Founding Members of 1896 whose faith in Warren – and in the successful future of the Conewango Club – has been so gratifying realized.

Our First 100 Years

Although the twelve founders met for the first time in 1896, the exact date is unknown. In fact, records of the club do not exist prior to September 3, 1900, the date the Certificate of Incorporation was filed.

By the annual meeting in 1902, the "little white house" was beginning to seem small for club activities and "upon motion, the president was directed to appoint a committee of five to procure plans, etc., for a new clubhouse not to exceed $10,000."

The need for a new clubhouse was still unresolved at the annual meeting held January 8, 1904, provoking considerable discussion. Finally, upon motion of J. A. Schofield, it was agreed "that a committee of five be appointed... to investigate as to the cost of a building a suitable new clubhouse."

On March 11, 1905, Mr. J. P. Jefferson, chairman of the building committee, reported: "the new building is nearing completion and will probably be ready for decorations and furnishings by the first of April."

At the annual meeting held on January 12, 1906, the club entered its tenth year in sound financial condition. Nearly $6,000 remained outstanding on the $29,400 in bonds issued for the construction of the new building. The bowling alley fund showed a sum of $119.50.

Neither the president nor the vice president was present at the annual meeting held January 11, 1907. The first entertainment committee was appointed, Bowling receipts were $46,62; cigar sales totaled $2,994,32.

Just two days after the annual meeting in 1915, a disastrous fire swept through the second and third floors, partially gutting the building. Loss was estimated at $20,000; club and contents were insured for $28,000.

The directors held a special meeting at 9:30 the next morning. Mr. Jefferson offered the Henry House at 205 Market Street to be used as temporary quarters. The main wing f the Warren Public Library now stands on the site. By January of 1916, the damaged club facilities have been repaired.

In 1917, the use of the second and third floors was offered go the American Red Cross "free of charge." The drums of war were rolling closer; "the house committee was authorized to purchase English and French flags to hang in front of the clubhouse." Dues of members in military service were remitted for the period of the car.

In January 1923, steps were taken to alleviate financial difficulties caused by the operations of the restaurant.

H. M. Putnam was elected president of the club on January 8, 1926. The club was entering its 30th year in healthy condition, in what appeared to be a strong economic era. But, hard days were ahead.

The period of fear and defeatism that swept the country in the early "thirties" could not help but have an adverse effect on the club. Nearly 60 members resigned for one reason or another, but by October 1933, 23 of these men had been reinstated and 77 new members added.

In 1939, the picture gallery of all club members beginning with the twelve founders was undertaken. Maintenance of this is now standard club procedure.

By the time of the annual meeting held January 8, 1942, our country was engaged in a second World War. Five members had already left for service. A total of 34 members eventually appeared on the club's Honor Roll.

Though many problems confronted the club during the war years, each was addressed; and the club, approaching its 50th Anniversary, was financially sound and comprised a well-knit group of loyal members.

In 1947, the board of directors saw a need to increase the resident membership from 150 to 175 members and to increase the scheduled entertainments by adding a ladies night in spring, two or three dances during the season and a summer picnic. The amendment to increase the size of the membership passed the second attempt.

In 1948, a resolution denying dogs' access to the clubhouse was unanimously adopted.

At the annual meeting in 1951, a great debate occurred when the assembled members were presented with a resolution to create a new class of membership in the club. By May, the ballot had been counted and the Junior Resident Membership, open to gentlemen under the age of 30, was created.

The energy of the debate dissipated quickly and at the annual meeting in 1952, the secretary called for the newly inducted youth "to rescue the banner with the strange device from the faltering hand of the Senior Member." Whether or not this occurred remains unrecorded.

In April of 1953, discussions of the board centered on the need for a bowling "Czar" to have charge of all bowling activities and the entire management of the league.

In December 1956, the board reviewed the collections for the elevator fund and found them to be coming in "more slowly than anticipated."

February 1962 board minute note that the club had a membership of 200 and a waiting list of five applicants.

In 1964, resident dues were decreased from $40 to $36 a quarter.

On of the most memorable events in club history, the club excursion on one of the last passenger trains to pass through Warren, took place on March 25, 1965. Forty-one members were bused to Erie to catch the train for its run to Warren, just two days before passenger service ended. The returning members were greeted at the Warren station by many joyous family members.

The first Members' Musicale was held in April of 1970 with the theme of "Lobster-n-all-that-jazz." A talented group of musically inclined members entertained members and ladies at an even that continued to be held for several years.

The club's 75th Anniversary was celebratedwith several events of particular note. On January 14, Bill Clinger delivered a humorous address on 75 years of club history at the annual meeting. On February 27, the club hosted the 75th Anniversary Ball for members and their ladies. On March 25, men's night featured Tullah Hanley, noted lecturer, philosopher, and exotic dancer. A record men's night audience filled the third floor ballroom to hear Mrs. Hanley speak, and to watch her perform. A number of the members joined her in dance.

The board of directors took action in October 1973 to change the club shot glass from 1-1/2 ounce to 1-1.4 ounce.

Minutes of the January 1974 board meeting note that the club had 222 resident members.

In 1975, a special committee of the board met with Mrs. Dorothy Hook of Brockway, the artist whose work now graces the second floor of our clubhouse.

Reciprocal agreements with the area clubs were secured beginning in 1981, to the benefit of our members and their. Also in 1981, a new class of membership was created, Member Emeritus.

The board authorized a special assessment in 1987 to secure funds for a much needed renovation. The project lasted most of '87, the assessment lasted three years.

The Second Century Program, launched in 1991, provided funds to continue the refurbishment of our proud but again clubhouse.

Thus, have 100 years passed. A century that has seen the transformation of a world. Our club has seen changes, too. Some of them are recorded here, many are not. But we have remained true to our founders' purpose... to provide a gathering place for men of good will, a gentleman's club.

NOTE: Prepared with excerpts from "Through 50 Years of Club History" from the 1946 Yearbook; "Conewango Club – Historical Review" ; William Clinger's address at the 75th Annual Meeting, and Club Minutes.