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Verdugo Club for men opened in 1950

April 28, 2011|By Katherine Yamada
  • Members of the Verdugo Club used the club to socialize and discuss business. Opened in 1950 on Broadway, the club quickly grew in popularity. Photo circa mid-1950s. (courtesy Special Collections Room, Glendale Public Library)
Members of the Verdugo Club used the club to socialize…

One day, back in 1949, three men got together for lunch at a local restaurant. Dissatisfied with the cuisine, they discussed getting a men’s club going in Glendale, somewhere where they could get good food.

That conversation eventually led to the formation of the Verdugo Club, a social organization for men that opened its doors in July 1950.

The club’s history, written by Cary Griffin and printed in 1960 in its newsletter, the Verdugan, said that sometime in 1949, John Barringer had lunch with two other men, Skeeter Erickson and Roland Bush. As they ate, they lamented the food and discussed the idea that Glendale should have a club similar to the Overland Club of Pasadena, which had been around since 1900.

The trio separated after lunch, Griffin wrote, and Barringer went over to Jack Lawson’s office to continue the discussion. Lawson, son of one of Glendale’s pioneers, John W. Lawson, was very active in the community and had already had similar discussions with two other men, Mark McMahon and Carroll Parcher.

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Eventually Lawson appeared as the leader of the fledging group, which held meetings around town. Their first informal events were at the Oakmont club, the Chevy Chase club and the Saddle & Sirloin restaurant. Some suggested a club with 1,000 members, but others were more conservative. The founders finally agreed on a goal of 200 members and an initiation fee of $240, plus $48 tax, again according to the 1960 Verdugan newsletter.

The Verdugo Club opened in 1950 on the second floor of the Stepper building at 220 W. Broadway with 135 members. The space had been extensively remodeled by architect Wayne McAllister before the formal opening in July.

The main lounge had divans, club chairs and cocktail tables and a separate reading room.

The dining room, just off the lounge, was marked by colorful curtains that opened to provide one large space. The long buffet table at the far end of the dining room adjoined the kitchen where Chef Marius Badiny and his chief assistant Walter Angel worked. The dining room’s unusual light fixtures led to its informal name, the “Flying Saucer Room.”

Lawson, who served as the first president, said at the opening that the club “furnished a long-felt need among Glendale’s business and professional men.” The club was restricted to the use of men during the day but was open to women after 4 p.m., noted the Glendale News-Press, July 21, 1950.

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