Club Founding

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History Minute

In 1917, twelve years after the first Rotary Club was founded, the 320th club was formed, here in Boise.

On March 30, 1917, the Idaho Statesman read:
    "Boise will be the first city in Idaho and the first city of less than 50,000 inhabitants to have a Rotary Club."

The article goes on to read:  
    "A Rotary club is the most representative commercial organization and business club the world has ever known; it is a parliament of business where every business constituency has its representatives, and may be heard on a basis of absolute equality."

Meetings were established for Thursday noons, a fact that has remained constant throughout the club's history.  The first officers were installed at the second club meeting on April 5th.  They were:
    President, C. A. Barton
    Vice President, Herbert F. Lemp
    Secretary, R. R. Alexander
    Treasurer, Wilsie martin
    Sergeant at Arms, Fred Jones

The new club's formal installation occurred April 28th, 1917.  The Saturday evening banquet was held at the Owyhee Hotel and was attended by more than 100 members of the Portland, Salt Lake, Spokane and Butte Rotary clubs.  District 14 Governor, Dr. T. C. Witherspoon, officially installed the officers of the new Boise Rotary club, while Portland Rotary Club President Charles E. Cochran presided.

In our imaginations, let's take a short walk across the Heart of Boise to 1917 at the Owyhee Hotel.

The room we are in has wall mounted lights that softly illuminate the dark wood paneling.  If you pay close attention, you can still smell the lemon oil and beeswax that the maids used, just this morning, to polish the paneled walls and furniture.  We can also smell the pleasant trace of well wrapped cigars and fruity pipe tobaccos.  And if you listen carefully, you can hear the clatter of carriage wheels and the jangle of harnesses amidst the other street noises.

Oh, and did you hear that?  The news boy in front of the Idanha is calling out the headlines from the Idaho Statesman.  

With that bit of history, we'll take an excerpt from the minutes of May, 1917:

    At this, the first official meeting, President Barton announced that absentees for five consecutive meetings will be arbitrarily dropped.

    Mr. W. L. Limbert spoke most interestingly and entertainingly of the bird life in Idaho.  He illustrated this with the calls of some thirty or more varieties of birds.

At our next Rotary minute.. we'll tell you a little of the history of some of the first officers of our illustrious Rotary Club.



    
Copied from notes prepared by Cindy Conway & presented in 2008 or 2009