About Our Club

 

History of the Rotary Club of Long Branch

The first Rotary Club was founded by Paul Harris, a lawyer, in 1905 in Chicago. Harris had spent his boyhood in Vermont and became aware of his lack of close friends in his adopted home town. He conceived the idea of a businessmen's club that could recapture some of the friendly spirit formed among businessmen in small communities.

By 1921, when the Long Branch Club was chartered, there were already 758 clubs with over 56,000 members in the US and a number of foreign countries.

It has been the common practice in forming a new club to have another local club be the sponsor. In our case the sponsoring club was Asbury Park. The first meeting of the organizing committee was held on November 22, 1920. The District Governor had appointed a member of the Asbury Park club, one Jesse Webster, to assist in forming th e Long Branch club.

After a number of organizational meetings held by local businessmen, the list of charter membership was closed on January 1, 1921 and a formal request was made to Rotary International for a charter.

The first president was Bartley J. Wright, a local lawyer. There were 5 officers and 13 members. Among those was William H. Woolley, father of Howard Woolley.

The charter was presented on February 18, 1921 at a banquet at the Old Imperial Hotel with the District Governor present.

Over the next 8 decades, the club has grown, participated in many charitable functions, and changed with the times.

We have met in such nearly forgotten places as the Commercial Hotel, the Imperial Hotel and the Wisteria Gardens, as well as the Simpson Church and the Garfield Grant Hotel. From 1954 to 1990 we met at the West End Manor and more recently, at the Old Orchard Country Club, Oceans 20 and Bella Vista.

One of the earliest programs was our student loan funds started by Wellington Lamonte, Manager of the Tintern Manor Water Co. - now NJ American Water Company. Over the years that project evolved into our current scholarship program.

During the years the Club has supported many projects for the old Long Branch YMCA, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

One of our most ambitious projects was to convert the unused Ice House at Monmouth College into an Art Gallery. It was a 3 year project begun in 1980 in the term of Roy Fliedner and completed in 1982 during the term of Joe Wenning. In all, $55,000 was raised, $15,000 being a gift from Shadow Lawn Savings & Loan.

Other more recent projects have been the planting of more than 60 flowering pear trees along uptown Broadway, plantings in North Long Branch, Elberon, West Long Branch and Oceanport.

We have for years participated in the Vince Lombardi Awards Drive which benefits the  Cancer Society. We have held holiday food drives and supported the start-up of the Ronald McDonald House - seeing it actually become a District Project.

Over the years we have held social affairs, run raffles, had art auctions, and similar projects to fund our scholarship activities.

We founded an Interact Club at Shore Regional High School and a Rotoract Club at Monmouth College. The members of these clubs have projects of their own as well as helping us with our annual Columbus Day float.

For years, the Club took an annual trip to Washington. More recently, we have resumed this event with trips to West Point, Princeton, New York City, Annapolis and Washington, D.C.