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“No Women, No Democrats, No Reporters”

The Battery is far from the first. Here's a brief history of San Francisco’s private clubs.

The Olympic club pre-1906 earthquake.

Read more: The Battery disrupts the Old Boys' Club.

1860: The oldest athletic club in the U.S., the Olympic Club, is founded; to this day it forbids denim on its Lakeside property.

1872: The Bohemian Club opens. As of 2011, it boasted an onsite Egyptian mummy and an alumni roster including multiple former presidents—plus a 20-year wait list and a not-so-bohemian $30,000 membership fee.

1889: The Pacific and Union clubs merge to become—wait for it—the Pacific Union Club. Its unofficial membership restrictions, according to a 2004 Chronicle story: “no women, no Democrats, no reporters.”

1901: The creepily named Family splits off from the Bohemian Club after a dispute too convoluted to recount. According to the Chronicle, new members are called “babies” and the club’s president is “father.”

1915: Because women have money (if not the right to vote!) and like nice lunches too, the all-female Metropolitan Club forms.

1960: The Italian-ish Villa Taverna joins a new slew of nationality-based clubs. Claims to fame include a 4½-star Yelp rating, Dianne Feinstein, and having been the site where the Haases brokered their purchase of the A’s.

2013: Hoping to unite computer geeks and artsy types, Michael and Xochi Birch plan to open the Battery this fall.

 

Originally published in the September issue of San Francisco

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