History of the Alexandria Rotary Club
This brief history of the Rotary Club of Alexandria, Virginia is only a summary of major events and developments in the evolution of the club from its founding to the present time.
As active and friendly as ever, it is now the largest Club in District 7610 of Rotary International. Presently membership stands at approximately 140 Members.
How it All Began, “Way Back When!”
The official charter of the Rotary Club of Alexandria was awarded March 14, 1928, during the Rotary International presidency of Arthur H. Sapp of Huntington, Indiana, and under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Warrenton, VA., William H. Surber, Charlottesville, VA, was district governor.
Charter members included:
C. S. Taylor Burke, President; S. Nelson Gray, Vice President,; Lawrence E. Roland, Secretary, W. Everett Swan , Treasurer; and members James M. Armstrong, Herbert E. Cross, Harry A. Wools.
Other early members were George F. Downham, Francis H. Fannon, C. Raymond Hellmuth, Blair McLeod, William S. Snow, Percy I. Vernon, and John T. Worthington.
The first official bulletin was named “The Forecaster,” as it is today.
During the first year of the club’s existence, the chief concerns were to increase membership and to study the objectives of Rotary.
Years of Growth; Years of Service to Children
As they endured a historic crash of the economy and the onset of “the Great Depression” of the 1930’s, members of the club realized there was a critical need in the community for day nursery services to ease the burden of working mothers. A house in the 300 block of Prince Street was rented, a matron was hired, and so the “Day Nursery” was born.
Within a year, the original quarters were outgrown, and the purchase of a larger house at 411 Prince Street was underwritten by several members. To raise funds for the eventual purchase of the building by the entire club, “The Alexandria Athletic Association” was incorporated and for about two years, leased and staged boxing bouts in the old bottling plant of the Portner Brewery. Enough money was raised not only to purchase the Prince Street building, but also for an endowment fund.
A corporation, whose members were the members of the Rotary Club of Alexandria, was formed to take title to the property. (The members of this Sec.501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, known as the “Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home,” continue to be members in good standing of the club.)
Shortly thereafter the Courts of the city filled a pressing need to provide housing for its young wards when the “Day Nursery” agreed to do so at the Prince Street site. It was the final step in the development of what continues to be familiarly know as “Day Nursery” was born.
When the City’s need ended in the mid-1940’s, the building was maintained for a time and used as a Rotary Club office, also providing rent-free space to the Alexandria Visiting Nurses Association. Some years later, the “Day Nursery” found a purchaser for the building, using the proceeds plus accrued monies from several endowments to form the capital for the current “Day Nursery” fund.
Throughout its existence, the Rotary Club of Alexandria has focused its interest on the welfare of the children of Alexandria. This interest has been expressed tangibly in another project, the “Little League of Alexandria,” which the club sponsored for several years. In addition, the club has participated in the usual fund drives and in conjunction with the Salvation Army, supplied Christmas baskets and hosted a Christmas party for underprivileged children.