You are here

Collections Cameo, December 2014

Winter Club Annual Report, December 1938

The Winter Club of Lake Forest was founded in 1900. But it was in December of 1938 that the club first printed and mailed an Annual Report to all its members. Before that time, an audited financial statement was simply available for review – but given the Depression-era context, the club’s president, W. A. P. Pullman, wished to inform the membership of the accomplishments of the previous years and the challenges the club would face in the future.

By 1936, membership had decreased to 186, down from its pre-Depression high of 250 – and there was no waiting list to replace those who resigned. Many who left were behind in their dues; others were largely inactive but had maintained their membership for sentimental reasons, and gave it up while economizing. With this in mind, the directors decided to cap membership at 200 going forward. In light of the economic circumstances, an appraisal was made of the Club’s liquidating value; it found the capital value of members’ certificates had dropped from $200 to $50.

“During the depression it was, of course, necessary to keep expenditures at a minimum,” the club president wrote. “Salaries had been cut 10% and maintenance of the property had been badly neglected.” The roof leaked, damaging the plaster on the walls and ceiling of the stage and the gym. The tennis courts wore down to little more than loose clay and gravel. By the late 1930s, recovery was finally in sight. Membership was back up to the limit of 200. This, along with the collection of several delinquent accounts, finally allowed the Winter Club to repair the roof, to replaster, to cover the tennis courts with a permanent asphalt surface, and to install a new hot water heater.

The report also dwells on the issue of the squash courts, built in 1926. Apparently maintenance was a challenge because “under certain conditions the walls ‘sweat’ badly, causing the paint to chip and the floors to be dangerously slippery.” Until a time came at which the Club could afford further work, a blower was installed to attempt to remedy the situation.

“Now, as to the Club’s future,” the president wrote. “It seems to me there are two things of vital importance: First, to get entirely out of debt as quickly as possible, and second, after that has been accomplished, to create a building fund.” Mr. Pullman traced a short history of the Winter Club’s finances, noting that the Club has essentially always been in debt. He also noted that no one had any desire to work toward an expensive new building. The matter of utmost importance, to the directors, was to ensure the Winter Club’s future for their children, who would soon become its custodians.