Club History

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We are proud of our heritage as the 7th club formed worldwide, out of 32,000 currently!  Our Club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009. There is a special role for the First 10 and the First 100 clubs within Rotary, and we are proud members of both groups!

Formed in 1909, the Rotary Club of Boston was founded only four years after Rotary's first club in Chicago, IL.   We were even formed before there was an organized "National Association of Rotary Clubs." 

Our members have been instrumental in founding other Rotary Clubs worldwide, including Paris, Glasgow, Melbourne, and Sydney, and our club is very popular with international visitors.

We estimate that we have had over 5,000 members since 1909 from every industry and walk of life in Boston.  But that is a small number of members
compared with the worldwide current membership of 1.2 million Rotarians.

A man from California contacted the club to find out some information on his grandfather's desk that is engraved "Presented to George A.G. Wood by The Rotary Club of Boston 1927".  So David Manzi , club president 2011-12 researched George's desk and he came across many interesting articles, stories, and Board Minutes that go back 60, 70, 80 years.  He found it a real pleasure to read about Boston Rotary members, such as Charles Hood, former president of Hood Milk, and other long standing members that included many of Boston's politicians, business leaders and prominent citizens (including Cabots and Lodges).  Current member, Susana Brown, related verbal history from her father, a past president of the Boston club, about Charlie Hood inviting all the club members to take the train from Boston's North Station to Derry, NH to enjoy the day at the Hood Family Dairy Farm for fun and fellowship...and the newest food sensation, Hoodsie Cups! Hoodsies were invented in 1947 and are still produced by Hood, a Massachusetts-based dairy company. A Hoodsie, for those who don’t know, is a small waxed-paper cup decorated with red polka dots and filled half with chocolate and half with vanilla ice cream. Hoodsies come with a small wooden "spoon" (more like a paddle), and taste incredibly airy and light, almost like frozen whipped cream.

So what about George A.G. Wood?  Well, George was the President of the Boston Rotary Club in 1926-1927 at an important time in club history.  Boston Rotary had been meeting at The Hotel Bellevue on Beacon Hill, next to the State House, and in March of 1927, George oversaw the club relocate to the newly constructed Statler Hotel (currently known as The Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers) on Arlington Street in the Back Bay section of Boston. George was presented with the desk with great appreciation by the club.

First Day Cover issued by the USPS on the 75th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Boston in 1984


Can you imagine 21,000 Bostonians sitting down to a baked bean supper on Boston Common? Well, it really did happen!

Thanks to the Rotarians of the Boston Rotary Club, a baked bean supper was held on Boston Common in October 1957, inviting the public to join them at $2.00 per person for supper with the net proceeds going to support the Freedom Trail Foundation, which eventually turned out to be $5,000.00

Under the direction of Rotarian Donald W. Blair, chair of field operations, wood picnic tables were set up on Boston Common to the tune of 21,000 places at eighty yards wide a 1/4 of a mile in length. The Rotary was well aware of our local affinity for baked beans and their communal supper did not disappoint! There was said to be ten tons of baked beans, 7,500 pounds of sliced baked ham, 27,000 apple pies, 35,000 slices of brown bread and butter, 1,500 gallons of hot coffee and 27,000 packages of after dinner mints!!

To help facilitate this massive undertaking there were 1,500 waitresses, 350 boy scouts, 200 girl scouts, 250 assistants and 400 members of the Rotary. There had been a dress rehersal prior to the event to ensure smooth and swift service and it was estimated that those attending would all be served within 45 minutes. However, rain was something that even the Rotarians could not deter so, just in case, they hired the Sundancers from the Norumbega Council of the Order of the Arrow to do a dance on Boston Common to ensure sunshine.

Said to be the "Largest Bean Bash" in the world, it really served two missions--- to raise money by the Rotarians for a worthwhile city foundation that promoted history, but even moreso to bring together Bostonians of all walks of life to join together in a community dinner on OUR Boston Common, which is really the true meaning of our shared heritage.

So, how about baked beans and brown bread for supper tonight? It's long been a Boston favorite on Saturday nights.
by Author and Boston historian Anthony M. Sammarco from his book "Lost Boston".