Spee Club (Harvard)

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Spee Club Clubhouse - 76 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge MA

The Spee Club is a final club at Harvard University. After voting to adopt a gender-neutral membership policy in September 2015, the Spee Club became the first Harvard final club to admit both male and female members. The clubhouse is located at 76 Mount Auburn Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Club was originally founded in 1852 as the Harvard Chapter of the Zeta Psi Fraternity. After severing ties with the national fraternity in 1914, the Club officially changed its name to the Spee Club of Harvard. In the fall of 1965, the club became the first Harvard final club to accept an African-American member.[1][2] The club's mascot is a bear.

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Founded as the Eighth (or Rho) Chapter in 1852, the Spee Club traces its roots back to the Zeta Psi Fraternity. Harvard Faculty abolished all secret societies in 1857, forcing the Chapter to go underground. In 1882, the chapter was reestablished and its constitution drafted. Ten years later, with tensions building between the University and its fraternities, the members of the chapter ceased payment of national dues, surrendering the charter and voting themselves as the Zeta Psi Club of Harvard. In the spring of 1900, a unanimous vote brought the society into the final club fold, ultimately resulting in a formal name change in 1914 to the Spee Club of Harvard.

Clubhouse[edit]

The early quarters of the Club were several rooms in a wooden house on Brattle Street. In the fall of 1886, the members purchased a second location at 44 Church Street, which became its first official clubhouse. Members describe its interior as a "simple, comfortable wooden house with a broad piazza overlooking the pear orchard and a stable nearby for the members' horses." As the Club's presence grew, a third property was acquired and the members erected a building, designed by the late Guy Lowell, at 15 Holyoke Street.

Holyoke Street Fire[edit]

On 9th March 1931, a large fire swept the building of the Holyoke Street Clubhouse destroying the top floor banquet hall and key rooms in the building. A famous poem recounts the Club's Chef arriving to the clubhouse the next day and serving breakfast on the morning of the fire amidst the smoky partial ruins of the kitchen.

76 Mt Auburn St[edit]

After the Holyoke Street fire, the construction of a new clubhouse was commissioned by the current undergraduates. With the University hoping to acquire the Holyoke Street lot to complete its holdings between Massachusetts Avenue and Mount Auburn Street, a trade was made and the Spee became the owner of the larger plot at 76 Mount Auburn St. Part of the land was previously owned by the old Institute of 1770. The building was designed by William T. Aldrich, the famous architect renowned for the design of many famous buildings including the Colony Club, the Knickerbocker Club, the Marine Air Terminal, The Brook, the Union Club, the Walters Art Museum and many others. The opening dinner commemorating the unveiling of the new clubhouse was held on February 20 1932. The Mount Auburn St location still serves as the Spee Club's current clubhouse.

Notable Alumni[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Harvard's Spee Club Accepts Its First Negro Club Member", St. Petersburg Times, December 15, 1965.
  2. ^ "Negro Student Accepts Final Club Membership", The Harvard Crimson, December 10, 1965.
  3. ^ "The Men's Final Clubs", The Harvard Crimson, October 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Josh Karp, A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever (Chicago Review Press, 2006), ISBN 978-1556526022, p.25. Excerpts available at Google Books.