Post Street Edifice Receiving the Last Touches
The new Olympic Club building, erected at a cost of $430,000, said to be the finest of its kind in the United States, will be formally opened next Saturday night. For a week scores of laborers and mechanics have been busy applying the finishing touches and installing the furnishings, which in themselves will cost over $40,000. On Wednesday the new structure will be thrown open for the inspection of the club members and their friends.
Ever since the corner-stone was laid a little over a year ago, work has progressed with remarkable rapidity. The building is five stories in height and contains the last word in everything appertaining to an athletic organization. It is in reality a combination of a hotel and an athletic society. In addition to its athletic accommodations, it has 72 first-class sleeping rooms, the equal of the best of any of the modern caravansaries in the country.
In appearance the building is an imposing one. Fronted in yellow pressed brick and finished with marble work in the Corinthian style, it stands on Post street, just above Mason. The first three floors are devoted to the athletic needs of the members, with magnificent handball courts that extend in height from the third to the fifth story. On the second floor are located the private dining-rooms, the main dining-room, the billiard-room, the whist-room and the kitchen. The first floor is devoted to the gymnasium, the clubroom, the library, the trophy-room and the reading room. In the mezzanine basement there are dressing-rooms to the number of 328, while there are 560 lockers. The rifle range is also situated in the mezzanine.
The basement floor is given over to the steam room, the hot rooms, the showers, the chiropodists, the barber shop, the medical director's office and the swimming tank, which in reality occupies a small building of its own. Twenty-four tub baths are also located in the basement, which has one section devoted to the needs of the juvenile members of the club, who will be kept separate in everything from the older members.
Practically all the equipment has already been installed and in the gymnasium alone the cost of furnishing, exclusive of the many donations by members, will total over $3000.
The portion of the building given over to the baths and massage rooms has been tiled and marbled throughout, and is second to none in the world. Everything is strictly sanitary. In the main swimming tank, which measures 100x35 feet, and varies in depth from 3 1/2 to 9 feet, there will be constant circulation of water pumped direct directly from the ocean.
The engine and machine rooms, with the laundry, are located in the sub-basement, as well as the heating plant, which will provide warmth for the building.
A modern hydrotherapy institution has been installed and a committee of prominent San Francisco physicians has pronounced it capable of giving even the most difficult Norheim bath.
It is hoped to have everything in readiness by a week from Monday night, when a monster vaudeville show will formally usher into use the new building.
The Olympic Club was founded May 6, 1860 by members of the Fire Department, artist Charles Christian Nahl and his half-brother Arthur.
The California Historical Society Quarterly for December 1936 said:
As early as 1855, Charles Christian and his half-brother had maintained an outdoor gymnasium in the backyard of their residence on Bush Street. Intended originally for their own use, it eventually attracted so many of their friends that adjoining backyard space was included in the enterprise. Soon the need for an organized athletic club became apparent, and on May 6, 1860, at a meeting held in the house of the Lafayette Hook and Ladder Company on Broadway, the first athletic club in the United States was founded under the name of "The San Francisco Olympic Club." G.W. Bell was its first president, E. Bonnell secretary, H. Chanks treasurer, and Arthur Nahl the leader, besides whom there were twenty-three charter members. "The New York Athletic Club" was not founded until six years later. The Olympian, Vol. VII, No. 77 (May, 1919).The Olympic Club continues to occupy this building in the 500 block of Post Street, though it sold an adjoining large lot at the corner of Post and Mason streets to the Portman hotel interests in the 1980s.