University clubs were founded in many cities throughout the United States from the late 1800s to the early 1900s and reflected the high social esteem in which a university education held.
On a spring afternoon in 1907, Nash Buckingham, a well known writer and athlete, and J. Bayard Snowden were having lunch and concluded that Memphis should have a University Club as well. With ten charter members, the Club got off to a festive start with many parties.
It is not clear where The University Club met at the beginning, but in 1919 a group of 125 men representing 40 colleges and universities reorganized the club and established its domain in the Napoleon Hill Mansion at the corner of Madison and Third. At the new location, and with the purpose to promote and foster education, social relationships and general welfare of its members and citizens of Memphis, the Club flourished.
In 1924 The University Club purchased the Clarence Saunders' home on Central Avenue and built an athletic building, tennis courts and a swimming pool. The Club also served as a boarding house for many of its collegiate members and when a fire consumed the building in 1934, boarders escaped from the upper floor windows in their night clothes. Although in the midst of the Great Depression, the members rebuilt immediately and in 1935 opened a new Clubhouse, which is the foundation for the way the Club looks today.
For three generations, the Club has provided its members with a warm, friendly setting for parties, sporting activities and relaxation. As one of our esteemed Members, Dr. Winston Braun wrote in 1977, “The University Club is our second home, our second office, and our first place for fun and games.”The University Club is truly our Members “home away from home.”