Editor's note: The Herald & Review each day is listing a reason the Decatur region is loved. We're profiling people, places and history that are special to our region — and that make it a great place to live. See more here.
If the walls of The Decatur Club could talk, oh the stories they could tell.
But they don't have to. The fruits of many of those conversations over can be seen can be seen throughout the community.
Lake Decatur. Millikin University. Decatur Memorial Hospital. The Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce.
All of these ventures – which we look upon today as jewels of our community -- can trace their roots back to The Decatur Club and its civic-minded members.
The Decatur Club was founded on May 23, 1883, as a male-member-only organization of business and professional men to promote the business interests of Decatur and the enjoyment of club members.
One of the first orders of business of the newly formed group was dealing with the right of way through Decatur of the Indianapolis, Decatur and Springfield railway, which would become the B&O.
“Some of the biggest business deals in town have probably been done on a Decatur Club napkin,” said Jeff Ingle, its general manager.
The Decatur Club had several homes in its early years, but has been at its current location at Prairie Avenue and Church Street since 1930. The grand opening was held on Jan. 1, 1931, likely the first of the many galas, weddings and meetings that have followed.
The club, like its community namesake, has seen many changes over the years.
In addition to getting a new facility, 1931 also saw a change in the bylaws that allowed unmarried women to become members.
There has been a gradual move over the years away from being a members-only club, allowing more community access to the facility and the many services it offers.
While membership still has its privileges, Ingle said efforts have been made in recent years to promote the facility as the place to go for fine dining to private business meetings, wine dinners to weddings.
A popular addition is the Wednesday Business Buffet.
“We do everything,” Ingle said.