August 13, 1921, Bloomington, Indiana—The headlines in the Bloomington Daily Telephone shouted in bold type almost one inch high, BLOOMINGTON TO HAVE FINE COUNTRY CLUB. From that border-to-border headline on the front page of Bloomington’s daily newspaper grew the club that we know today.
The stage was set. Superintendent Charles Sears, of the Showers factory, and a number of the most successful men in Bloomington backed the venture. Then, as now, Bloomington Country Club was a big part of Bloomington’s growth and success.
Initially, the club was to be located on what was known as the James Moore farm, two miles east-southeast of Bloomington, just east of the Dr. Whetsell place, and a three acre tract across the road on which a lake was located. The two story farmhouse on the site was to be turned into the clubhouse and the 72 acre farm was to be used for “golf links, tennis courts, a lake—and all that goes to make up a country club.” The farm was situated on a hillside. The lake was 560 feet long and 400 feet wide and had a depth ranging down to 22 feet. It was built in the late 1800’s as an ice pond. In the recent past it was stocked with bass and other game fish and “it presents a place for all sorts of water amusement—canoeing, swimming, fishing, water polo, etc.”
The Moore place was selling for about $8,000. The idea was to sell stock at $100 per share to each member to cover the cost of purchasing the property. To pay the expenses of the club, dues of $50 a year were to be charged. Speeches in support of the early plan were made by Weir Marshall, Col. H. P. Radley, Merle Talbott, John Sutphin, and Dr. Otto Rogers.
Unknown to most, Bloomington Country Club was not the first country club in the city. A club was started in 1914 by Capt Joe Knox Barclay and Dr. Munson Atwater and it was just getting underway when World War I broke out. The backers of the club largely went into the military or took up some form of war work and, as a result, the club died.
August 20, 1921, Bloomington, Indiana—After a week of electing committees, viewing property, and planning for the future, about 50 people came together in the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce meeting room. After a secret ballot, the was a unanimous, “YES.” Talks of encouragement were given by Charles Sears, William Burroughs, Harry Cosler, Jess Fields, and Dr. Snyder. Dr. J. E. P. Holland presided as temporary chairman. From this newspaper article, we take the date of establishment of the club as August 19, 1921.
September 3, 1921, Bloomington, Indiana—In bold headlines even bigger than the initial announcement, Dr. J. E. P. Holland was announced as the president of the new country club. The other officers of the brand new club were: Fred Matthews, Vice President; F. Merrill Talbott, Secretary; and, Lane Siebenthal, Treasurer. Elected directors were: Charles Sears, Dr. Frank Holland, H. P. Radley, W. Edward Showers, Otto Rott, C. C. Smallwood, M. W. Lade, Frank Allen, and Ellis Johnson.
The initial membership was to be limited to 100. It was decided to issue stock in the amount of $30,000 to finance the project. Of this amount, $15,000 would be common stock, with voting power, and $15,000 cumulative preferred stock, bearing interest at the rate of 6% annually.
The membership committee reported that the membership was almost full already and they would soon establish a waiting list. By September 27, 1921, the new country club reported that, in fact, the membership was full. To see a complete list of the original 100 members of the club, click on the Original Membership List.
At about this same time, it was reported that the old Mae Wylie place, and later the Dr. Farr home, on the south Rogers street pike, about a mile from the city, was selected as the new home of the country club. The 99 acres were purchased for $12,500. Carlisle Bollenbacher, former Bloomington citizen, and then an architect in Chicago, turned over completed plans for the new clubhouse to the officers of the club.
Two month later, the club announced that the Geo, E. Swartz Construction company of Bedford, Indiana was awarded the contract to build the clubhouse for $18,000. The building committee was composed of J. E. P. Holland, Harry Johnson, William Graham, and G. F. Holland.
In March of the following year, a 60’ x 100’ outdoor swimming pool was authorized “with modern appliances.” The pool was expected to cost $5,000, to be located between the clubhouse and the Dixie Highway (Rogers Street), and accommodate up to 150 bathers.
By April 1922, six holes of the originally planned nine-hole golf course were in use. Plans were well under way to have the final three holes, the clubhouse and the swimming pool all finished and in use by July 4th.
After months of planning and building, the opening week of festivities were scheduled to begin Tuesday, June 27, 1922. Opening week events included an informal dance and card party for families with food and an orchestra followed the next night by a stage dinner “for the gentlemen members of the club only.”
Bloomington Country Club remained a 9-hole club until the mid 1970’s when additional acreage was purchased. A new clubhouse was built on the current site and condos were constructed in the general area of the old clubhouse. For a short period during that timeframe, the Bloomington Country Club became known as the Quail Ridge Golf and Tennis Club but the name was later changed back.
In November 2004, an ashtray was dumped into a trash can in the kitchen area. Unfortunately, ashes were still hot. By the time someone smelled the smoke, flames were burning through the roof. Despite the best efforts of the Clear Creek Fire Department, the clubhouse burned to the ground. The only part of the building that was not directly damaged by flames was the Men’s Locker Room and lounge area with the deck above. Everything else was either directly burned or destroyed by falling walls and ceiling.
By mid 2005, the decision to rebuild was final and the architect, Doug Bruce of Tabor Bruce Architecture & Design had completed the construction plans. Weddle Bros Construction Company was selected as the General Contractor. Construction was completed and the “new” Bloomington Country Club reopened for business on Easter Sunday 2006.