The Athenian-Nile Club was, for nearly a century, Oakland’s premier gentleman’s social club. Formed in April 1915 from a merger of the Athenian Club (organized in 1883) and the Nile Club (organized in 1896) the Athenian-Nile’s elite membership included businessmen, politicians, lawyers and architects – most of the town’s movers and shakers. This effectively made it Oakland’s shadow power base. (Talk about your star chamber, old-boy network, smoky backroom handshake deals, etc.)
The Athenian Club did not allow African-Americans to participate. So the purchase of the building by African-American leader Geoffrey Pete was seen as both a symbolic and a practical victory for civil rights. Mr. Pete's business, Geoffrey's Inner Circle, occupies the upper floors and hosts events every week, including Jazz at Geoffrey's on Sundays.
The club itself may have dissolved c.1984, but its spiffy c.1902 clubhouse survives at the corner of 14th and Franklin streets downtown, now home the Joyce Gordon Gallery and other businesses. The building is part of the Downtown Oakland Historic District. The c.1902 Athenian-Nile Club building was designed by member Walter J. Mathews.
The hall of the Nile Club is in Preservation Park.
Members of the Athenian Club
Oakland Clubs (from the Annual Number insert of the Oakland Tribune, 25 January 1911).
The Athenian Club and the Nile Club are featured on this page.
Links and References
- Athenian-Niles building is example of prolific Oakland architect's work Oakland Tribune December 1, 2013 by Annalee Allen