History - Missouri Athletic Club

History

For more than 100 years, the Missouri Athletic Club has established itself as a platinum club in St. Louis by exemplifying the following mission, to be the premier athletic, dining and social club for business, professional and civic leaders and their families in the St. Louis region.

The Missouri Athletic Club, which opened its doors on Sept. 13, 1903, was born into a city bustling with preparations for the 1904 Olympics and World's Fair. The original Clubhouse was located in the Boatman's Bank Building at 4th and Washington Ave. in Downtown St. Louis. The catalyst for establishing the Club was Charles Henry Genslinger who had successfully opened clubs in New Orleans and New York prior.

The spectacular new Club played a pivotal role hosting dignitaries from around the world who were visiting St. Louis for the Olympics and World's Fair. Athletes from the MAC competed in boxing, wrestling, water polo, swimming and track at the Olympic Games. In that first year, the foundation for a St. Louis institution was established.

The MAC has gone by a number of different names throughout its history, including St. Louis Athletic Club and Missouri Athletic Association, but "Athletic" has always been the Club's middle name. With a prestigious athletic staff as its foundation and building on the 1904 Olympics, the MAC became a strong member of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Club athletes won Olympic medals and national AAU events over the following decades. Early MAC athletes like Joseph Forshaw, Harry Kiener and Culver Halstedt became known far beyond the boundaries of St. Louis.

The momentum gained in those early years came to a sudden halt when a tragic fire destroyed the original clubhouse in March 1914. Within two weeks after the fire, a committee was appointed to design and erect a new and more elaborate clubhouse on the same location. A special committee funded the project with bonds sold to prominent St. Louis businessmen like August A. Busch.

The present-day Downtown Clubhouse opened its doors on March 1, 1916 with a gala celebration attended by 5,000 people. The new clubhouse, a 10-story facility, was grander than the original. Click here to read The American Architect magazine's story from August 1916 about the new clubhouse, including photos of this historical gem. 

Since its inception, the Club has endured by adapting to the changing times while remaining committed to the vision of the original founders: "to be the premier athletic, social and dining club for business, professional and civic leaders and their families in the St. Louis area."

Building on a storied past, the MAC always keeps an eye on the future. In 1995, the Club purchased the former Town and Country Racquet Club in suburban St. Louis, which allowed the Club to offer more programs like tennis and outdoor swimming. In 2004, a major expansion/renovation was completed at the West Clubhouse.

In 2000, the MAC was awarded "Platinum Club" status for the first time. This designation takes into consideration the quality of membership, tradition and heritage, facilities, amenities, club management, and staff. Of the more than 5,000 private clubs across the country, only 150 are awarded "Platinum Club" status. With this award, the MAC has distinguished itself as among the top 3% of private clubs in the country every year since.

In May of 2007, the Club was again recognized for its prestige and history. The Downtown Clubhouse was added to the National Register of Historical Places, forever making it a landmark in St. Louis.

The MAC's rich history provides a powerful foundation on which to build. The Club's strong heritage, coupled with the commitment of both membership and staff to the MAC's mission of excellence, assures that the MAC will continue to be a respected and admired institution for years to come.