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Engineers' Club of Philadelphia
 

History

Photo The Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia drew engineers from around the world to view the technical advances of that century. It was apparent to engineers residing in Philadelphia that engineers did not know each other. Charles E. Billin invited twenty or so engineers to his home the following winter for refreshments. This started a series of gatherings at the homes of various engineers. The Club formally organized in December 1877 and Professor L. M. Haupt was its first President. It limited its membership to fifty. The minutes of the first meeting stated: "Its object shall be the professional improvement of its members, the encouragement of social intercourse among men of practical science, and the advancement of engineering in its several branches..."

The Club adopted as its motto a quotation from George Washington?s speech to the Federal Convention accepting the role of president of the convention in 1787. It expresses the charge placed upon the Engineers' Club's members by its charter. The motto states: Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.

The constitution and bylaws were adopted January 19, 1878. The entrance fee was one dollar. It shared quarters with the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects at 10 North Merrick Street, site of North Broad Street Station. It has changed location a number of times: 1518 Chestnut, then 1523 in 1881. In 1907, it moved to 1315 Spruce street and in 1917, acquired 1315 and 1317 combining them into one clubhouse. In 1960, the facilities were extensively modified. In 1987, President Pennoni recognized that the Club was incurring large annual deficits caused by the operation and maintenance of the clubhouse. The building was sold and a reduced portion of it was rented back. In 1988, these spaces were renovated and decorated. Tina Guzzardi donated her time, expertise and funds for the remodeling of the library and lighting of the lobby.

In 1905, the American Society for Testing of Materials was the first organization to meet at the clubhouse. The formalization of engineering societies use of the house established the Affiliated Organizations who obtained meeting privileges and could use the clubhouse as a mailing address. By 1969, more than twenty societies had affiliated. Typical of the cooperation among the engineering and scientific societies in Philadelphia is that nine presidents of the Franklin Institute have also been presidents of The Engineers? Club.

The Engineers' Club had its own programs, both technical and social. The Education Course program was begun, and among the early courses was Public Speaking taught by Dale Carnegie. The course program has been a continuous contribution of the Club to the community, not restricted to Club members. Today it offers twelve to fifteen courses each term with small classes where every student is given personal one-to-one attention by the instructor. The clubhouse provided a common ground for engineers of every discipline to meet and for others associated with engineering to participate.

Over the years the Club has had prominent engineers as members including Thomas A. Edison, Herbert Hoover and David Sarnoff. The Club has recognized engineers for their contribution to engineering as a profession. In this volume you will find lists recognizing these engineers.

At the end of 1989, the Club closed the clubhouse operations at 1317 Spruce Street and relocated its office first to the Public Ledger Building at 6th and Chestnut Streets and then to its present location in the Racquet Club at 215 South 16th Street. The emphasis was to regroup the efforts of the Club within the framework of its Charter as a service organization for engineers. In May of 1990, the paid staff was replaced by one office temp and the daily operation of the Club was assumed by the President, Joe Gaudet and the Secretary, Walter Neal. In June of 1991, Dick Mulford joined them as Executive Director, and in May 1992, he was elected as Secretary and Treasurer. In the Fall of 1991, Tom Payne joined Mulford and Neal as the third Club member of the office staff. The office temp was released in the Spring of 1992 and the Club was run solely by volunteers from then until 2007.

In August 2007, a sufficient financial reserve had been developed to allow the Club to invest in hiring a full-time paid Executive Director. As a result of this move, combined with a refocusing of the Club's volunteer structure, the Club has:

  • Developed a Strategic Plan
  • Debuted a new website
  • Expanded the involvement of affiliated technical and professional societies
  • Expanded the Continuing Professional Development Program, including different course titles and increased number of sessions
  • Developed corporate memberships, which now includes 14 corporate members and over 450 Club members
  • Developed agency partnerships
  • Developed student chapters at local universities
  • Developed a robust committee structure to aid the operations of the Club and to provide for various programs.