A Historic Landmark
On December 2, 2016 The Fort Atkinson Club was listed on the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places.
The Fort Atkinson Club History
From the Daily Jefferson County Union
The Fort Atkinson Club building was built in 1912 or 1913 by the then-newly incorporated Fort Atkinson Club, an organization of the city’s businessmen, with members from nearly every trade, from cleaners and shop owners to lawyers and doctors.
It was modeled after the Wisconsin Building that was on display at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis, Mo. That building was named most representative of the ethnicity and culture of the state. It was dismantled and reconstructed as a residence, using only part and piece in Kirkwood , Mo.
The Fort Atkinson Club was constructed for $10,376.35 by J.O. Hughes & Son contractor with C. Fitzgerald, an architect from Milwaukee.
Members of the Fort Atkinson Club were the businessmen and professional men of Fort Atkinson who met at W.D. Hoard & Sons Co. until the building was finished in 1913.
According to an article in the Jefferson Count Union dated May 31, 1912, the Fort Atkinson Club had 110 members at the time bids were being considered for the construction of the clubhouse.
The land on which the Fort Atkinson Club building sits initially was owned by Arthur Hoard. His brother Frank Hoard, was the first chairman of the Fort Atkinson Club, and his other brother Halbert Hoard, and his father William Dempster Hoard, were members as well.
To help pay for the new building the Fort Atkinson Club sold 200 shares at $100 each.
The building held a housewarming party on October 31, 1913, which the Jefferson County Union reported was “the most dazzling function ever given in Fort Atkinson.’
An article dated November 7, 1913 stated that “beautiful women and beautiful decoration were added to beauty in design and beauty of furnishings of the new Fort Atkinson Club last Friday night and together made a most brilliant scene, in fact, one never before equaled in this city. It was a crowning glory that will be in the memory of all club members till earthly things pass from view.”
The article notes that the grand opening ball was attended by around 200 guests, who enjoyed a five-course dinner and performance by “The Imperial” of Madison.
The Fort Atkinson Club owned the building through Prohibition and into the Great Depression. Some of the chairs the club left behind remain in the building and might be nearly 100 years old.
Club rules allowed the building open from 9:00 a.m. to midnight daily, no more than one guest at a time, no wagers, and no soliciting. Old menus detail items sold such as wines, liquors, mixed drinks, salads, beer, cigars and sandwiches. Annual dues were $18. The Fort Atkinson Club sold the building to the Masons, for about $2,500 less than the members wanted, when the Great Depression hit in 1930.
Located at 201 S. Water Street East, the building encompasses about 6,000 square feet of occupied space. It has three floors, two kitchens, a dumbwaiter, hardwood floors, a wood-burning fireplace and two regulation bowling lanes built into the lower level. The dance floor in the lower level has a floating floor, and the Masonic ceremonial room on the second floor sports two stages, a barrel-vault ceiling and cove lighting.