The early years:
Following the intrepid Marcus Whitman (who many credit with leading the first wagon train over the Blue Mountains into Oregon, pioneer settlers on the Oregon Trail begin arriving in the Willamette Valley in large numbers. Settlements initially center near the falls in Oregon City, but by the early 1840s a new settlement begins emerging on the banks of the Willamette River, located roughly halfway between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. The popular name for this new community is "Stumptown" - as the local forests were decimated to provide the timber for construction of homes and commercial structures.
Portland is formally incorporated on February 8, 1851, and lists over 800 inhabitants, boasting a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, the Weekly Oregonian. Oregon is admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859.
Two years after the ending of the Civil War, and in the same year that Alaska is purchased for $7,200,000 (known as Seward's folly), and with an Oregon state population having blossomed to 90,922, the name "Arlington Club” is formally adopted by its 35 founders and the Club is officially founded as a social club, where members "could fraternize for mutual enjoyment and relaxation" and "provide a meeting place for discussing their own and Portland's destiny". The reason for the choice of the name "Arlington Club" (despite many avidly asserted competing theories), remains a mystery, but all agree that the old English nomenclature meaning the "finest" or the "highest" is appropriate to the Club's character.
The (approximately one hundred) founding members file articles of incorporation for "Arlington Club", hold an organizational meeting, adopt bylaws, elect officers, and begin the Club's official existence as a non-profit corporation. The members move into their first official clubhouse, leasing space in the property known as the J.C. Ainsworth House located at Third and Pine. The initial stated capital of the Club (in property and monetary value) is $20,000. The concept of "tradition" becomes the distinguishing characteristic for "why things are done that way" at Arlington Club. In December the constitution and bylaws are adopted without discussion.
In February, 1882, the previously adopted constitution and bylaws are authorized, engrossed, and printed. On the second Saturday in December, the first Annual Meeting of the Club is held, with the Club regaling its members with "supper, champagne, and cigars." The meeting has been held on that date ever since, although cigars are no longer served (to the chagrin of some members and the delight of others).
At the annual meeting the members adopt a resolution that the members may invite friends, including ladies to the club (despite the rule against allowing women in the club) "every Wednesday evening for four successive weeks in May of 1887 and that on those occasions the members would refrain from smoking."
A motion passes at the Annual Meeting to acquire property and build a permanent club house. The Union Club of Tacoma sends its felicitations and asks the Club to open a case of champagne and charge it to the Union Club.
The Club's members form an Arlington Club Building Association, which builds, and from which the Club leases, new quarters located at West Park and Alder. The building includes a four-lane bowling alley, a billiard room with four tables, coffee shop, dining room, library and reading room. In the interest of economy the members decide to turn off the gas lights in the bowling alley at midnight on Saturdays. Women are formally permitted to enter the clubhouse to attend the reception on occupation of this location.
Membership in the Club is limited to 400 regular members, with an entrance fee of $200; dues are $7.50 per month. In 1908 the current location for the clubhouse on Park and Salmon is purchased for $55,000. The clubhouse is designed by members Ion Lewis and William Whidden. The building is officially opened in 1910 at a cost with the land (as reported in the Oregonian) of above $105,000 (the actual cost is above $254,000). Ladies are again permitted to attend the formal dedication dinner in November of 1910.
Bishop Dagwell moves into the Club and lives there until his death in 1963.
The members assemble at Waverley Country Club on July 14 for what will become the Annual Golf Tournament. The event continues to the present as one of the most venerable golf tournaments in the State, and has been held every year except 1942 and 1947.
Club officially receives acknowledgment of “not for profit” status with the Internal Revenue Service.
100 Year Celebration Event is held at which women are invited to attend. The book Arlington Club and the Men who Built It is published and given to Club members.
President Charles Wentworth, Jr. duplicates the feat of his father (27 years earlier) recording a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at Waverley Country Club, wearing a top hat and tails (in 1950 the theme was "Most Outlandish Attire"), at the annual golf tournament, which is chronicled in Ripley's Believe It or Not," and currently memorialized in the Golf Champion's Room. His father as President had bet "$20 a man" as he stood on the tee at the 9th hole at Waverley, that he would make a hole-in-one – they all paid!
In November the first Annual Board Retreat is held in the desert retreat in Borrego Springs, California, and the mystique of that event is born.
The First Toastmasters meeting is held with Diarmuid O'Scannlain elected as the first president. Toastmasters continue to meet every Thursday morning. Arlington Club Toastmasters is the largest and oldest TM group in Oregon.
Arnold Palmer comes to Portland to play in the US Senior Open held at Portland Golf Club and speaks to 250 AC members at Tuesday Club at the invitation of Club President, Norm Wiener. Twenty-seven years later, on the occasion of Norm's 90th birthday, Arnie (who turned 80 on that same September 10) sends Norm a letter of birthday greetings. The letter is on display in the Golf Champion's Room.
Club members vote to allow women to join the club. The first women admitted in March 1991.
First Christmas Gala held. The tradition continues today as one of the most popular events on the Club calendar.
The popular affinity group concept is formally adopted and currently continues to thrive. Early groups included Toastmasters, Aviators, Wine, Cycling, and Motorcycling.
Gail Achterman becomes the first female member of the Board of Directors.
The process of recording and gathering of the oral histories of prominent Club members commences. That process continues today in the History Committee.
Heritage Society is formally established.
Arlington Club – Where Leaders Meet is published and presented to all club members.
The Clubhouse renovation is completed at a cost of $2.3 million, Dagwell's is named, the library is moved to the first floor, and a celebratory event is held.
Helena Barbey Lankton is elected as the first female president in the Club’s history. The 100th Anniversary of the Clubhouse is celebrated with “The Party of the Century”.
Heritage Foundation is established as a nonprofit 501(c) (3) entity for the purpose of preserving the history and physical structure of the Club. Brewer's license is obtained – the first private club in the country to obtain that distinction.
The club celebrated its 150th Anniversary with a gala party for 300 members and guests who dined, danced, and recognized the amazing history of our membership.