Bar club: Antonio’s first social club
The bar Club, San Antonio’s first social club and theater, originated from meetings of twenty Germans who gathered for conversation and sociability in 1854. The club was chartered in 1857, with a membership of 106 men-all German Texans.
The club’s building on Market Street, formally opened in 1858, had on its west side a bar with skat tables and reading room, in the center a ballroom that could be converted into a theater with a stage and balcony, and on the east side a salon and lounge.
Commissioned army officers stationed in San Antonio were honorary guests. The names of generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant appear on the guest list. The club was open daily to its members; a monthly entertainment (usually a concert or an amateur play followed by a dance or hop) was provided for the families.
The New Year’s Ball was a formal affair with supper and champagne. The children had their Kinderball and Maskenball. Revenue was collected from the rental of the theater. Many leading actors, stock companies, entertainers, and lecturers engaged it.
The Casino Club had existed sixty-nine years when its building was sold in 1923. Its reputation as a social center was famous, with its old German flavor and European traditions. Fathers reserved memberships for their sons and formally introduced their daughters. In 1946 the organization was exclusively a man’s club. There were Casino Clubs listed in the San Antonio telephone directory into the early 1960s.