Tour of Room 711

Become a lifetime member of the Paul Harris 711 Club

Room 711, which has been located on the 16th floor of Rotary World Headquarters in Evanston, IL since 1993, has been recently relocated to the 1st floor. Visitors will have better access to the room which will become part of a larger visitor experience that is being developed. A re-dedication and ribbon cutting was held on 21 February 2014 with many 711 Club members in attendance. 711 Club President Dick Galitz spoke about the significance of the room and its place in Rotary’s history. Deputy General Secretary of RI Pete DeBerge and History and Archives Manager Stephanie Giordano also spoke.

History and Archives Manager Stephanie Giordano, 711 Club President Dick Galitz, and Deputy General Secretary Pete DeBerge cut the ribbon at the dedication of Room 711 at RI World Headquarters in Evanston, 21 February 2014.

Entering Room 711 is a step back in time to year 1905, when the first four Rotarians met here on February 23. Outside the room is a photo of this pioneering quartet which includes Room 711 occupant Gus Loehr, a mining engineer.

The original Room 711 was in a downtown Chicago building, where it had been preserved as a museum room by Chicago Rotarians until the building was demolished in 1989. Before the wrecker’s ball hit, Rotarians removed the doors, wood trim, radiators, ceiling lights, furniture, and décor. The room was reassembled in One Rotary Center and a dedication ceremony was held in 1994. Twenty years later, the room was rebuilt and rededicated on the first floor of Rotary’s World Headquarters in Evanston, IL, USA.

Today, visitors can walk around the office and imagine the setting of the first Rotary meeting. An Edison Dictaphone machine, check printer, and mimeograph machines that would have been found in many early 20th century offices are on display. Tools common to the mining trade are also included in the room.

Visitors can look out the windows of Room 711 onto the streets of 1905 Chicago, where businessmen in bowlers crowd the streets. The large back-lit photo helps set the mood of the time. In truth, however, when Gus looked out of his windows, he looked across the alley at another brick wall.

711 Club President Dick Galitz at the dedication of Room 711 at RI World Headquarters in Evanston, 21 February 2014 By Dick Galitz, president of the 711 Club, at the re-dedication of Room 711 on the first floor of RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA
It’s very special to be standing in front of the rededicated Room 711 on this occasion. It is a special room. When you go into the room, you can just feel, I can feel, the atmosphere and sense of four guys getting together and saying “let’s build a fellowship.”

When they first started, they were talking about business exchange. But within a very short period of time the concept of service came about. They said we have to do more than just be businessmen to businessmen. It’s an opportunity to be of service to others.

This room is where it all began. When Rotary members walk in, they are feeling that perception in their own heads. During the centennial convention in 2005, we had thousands of people come up here to see Rotary Headquarters as well as Room 711 (then located on the 16th floor).

Everyone was impressed with what the room said to them and the feeling that they got about the starting of Rotary International. Rotary history is very important to me. I think it’s important to Rotary and should remain important because it’s our story, it’s like a family history.

And we are sharing that history. (PDG Dick, RGHF agrees) For more information on tours of One Rotary Center, click on “Center Tours”.

Photo Credit: Rotary International Audio/Visual Department

Room 711 of the Unity Building at 127 Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois was the office of mining engineer, Gustavus Loehr, who joined Rotary briefly, due to business pressures had to resign and died shortly after that. See Paul Harris’ comments from “This Rotarian Age.”