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If the Faculty Club celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1983, why is it marking its 100th on Wednesday? Because the history of an earlier club has been incorporated into the celebration. Here, from a 1983 souvenir program, is one faculty member's recollection.--Ed.

The Lenape Club: A Look Backward from 1983

From its inception, membership in the Lenape Club was considered to be relatively restrictive--some said even exclusive and discriminatory. Most of its members were full-rank or well-established faculty. I and several of my colleagues were admitted under rather favorable terms during World War II when membership and attendance had dropped.

One anecdote reported to me comes from the club's early days. It had to do with a question put to Provost Harrison by the club's first vice-president, George Byron Gordon. "How many members should the club be limited to?" Gordon asked. The Provost suggested setting the limit at one hundred, to which Gordon replied, "Are there so many of the faculty who are clubbable?"

After two previous moves the clubhouse was finally moved to tiny McAlpen Street just south of Walnut between 36th and 37th, and occupied three small row-houses. This required considerable renovation and the demolition of numerous partition walls. It was discovered at one point that the architect had failed to provide for a staircase to the second floor dining-meeting room. His excuse--there was not enough room for a proper staircase. An appeal to the old carpenter working on the site achieved the impossible. Result--the construction of a narrow and rather steep staircase providing access at the north end of the clubhouse. This served the membership, if precariously, throughout the life of the building.

Two long tables dominated the dining-room. At the head of the first of these sat a chair traditionally reserved for the club's president. Any member arriving for lunch was expected to sit down alongside or directly opposite the last member previously seated. This was supposed to discourage the formation of cliques and provide testimony to the congeniality of members.

A regular schedule of club services and activities included lunch served six days a week and a dinner-meeting once a month. At the monthly meetings there was usually a guest speaker and, on occasion, a picture show. For a period of time these events were recorded by Ray Abrams. Besides the other services he provided the club, Ray designed artistic flyers announcing these programs which he then printed on his home press. Many of these flyers are preserved to this day at the Faculty Club along with such items as the wood Indian figure and R. Tait McKenzie's bronze door-knocker.

One tradition regularly observed was the May Festival, an occasion for a good bit of drinking and hilarity. Conviviality generally prevailed and there were even occasional bouts of Indian Wrestling.

--W. Wallace Weaver, Emeritus Professor of Sociology


Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, March 24, 1998, Volume 44, Number 26