Room 711

The rain beat down on 127 N. Dearborn Street on November 15, 1983, as 100 Rotarians and wives crowded the 7th floor hallway of Chicago’s Unity Building. Before them was the office of mining engineer Gus Loehr: Room 711. Here on February 23, 1905, lawyer Paul Harris met with Gustave Loehr, coal dealer Sylvester Schiele, and merchant tailor Hiram Shorey to create the world’s first Rotary club.

ROOM 711 is now a Rotary SHRINE Twenty-two Chicago Rotarians had formed an Illinois corporation to save Room 711 as a Rotary shrine. Illinois Governor James Thompson sent a proclamation of good wishes, and Rotarian Max Bloom scissored the ceremonial ribbon.

Guests marveled at the room decorated with antiques and office equipment from the turn of the century: a roll-top desk, an early Dictaphone and check writer, a spittoon, and a Chicago Tribune dated February 23, 1905. One founding member observed that “the Paul Harris 711 Club is not a Rotary Club, but a group of Rotarians interested in preserving the cradle of Rotary.

The landmark will be maintained by Rotarian support around the world.” “This room lives,” the Rotarian Magazine stated. “It’s more than wood and plaster. One can feel the presence of Rotary founders. Here, Rotarians can stand, think about our rich heritage, and say, ‘This is where it all began.’ ”

In 2014, the “room” was moved to RI’s first floor museum.

Rotarians past and present, spouses, and others committed to the concept, ideals, and history of Rotary International who join the Paul Harris 711 Club understand that they are not joining a Rotary Club, but a corporation devoted to preserving and maintaining the place where Rotary and the entire worldwide service club movement was born on February 23, 1905. The Paul Harris 711 Club also supports the Rotary International Archives where historic Rotary artifacts, photographs, and documents are preserved.

Paul Harris 711 Club

– Mission Statement

The mission of the Paul Harris 711 Club is to assist in preserving the Room which is the birthplace of Rotary International and the cradle of the worldwide movement of service clubs comprised of business and professional leaders.

– Objectives

1. Foster research to keep alive the fellowship and mutual friendships created by those men who first met in Room 711 of Chicago’s Unity Building on February 23, 1905;

2. Encourage Rotarians, other service club members, and the general public to recognize and honor Rotary International and other service clubs as pioneers of community volunteerism and global humanitarianism; and

3. Advocate and promote the collection and conservation of Rotary’s history, heritage, and artifacts; and encourage similar activity by others devoted to the preservation, growth, and appreciation of the service club movement.