For the past 100 years, the Hamilton Round Table Club has been meeting quietly, by invitation only, for the “social and intellectual advancement” of its members.
For its 100th anniversary, the group is holding a special banquet for current members, former members and their guests at the Colligan Lodge in Veterans Park.
Local architect and long-time club member Mike Dingeldein will present an essay titled “The Next 100 Years: Why Hamilton Will Thrive,” which he described as “a futurist look at the past 100 years and how the future will be impacted by what we know today.”
The special event will be held exactly 100 years to the date of the first formal meeting of the 14 charter members of the Round Table, which was the idea of M. J. Flannery, a Hamilton High School teacher, according to current president James Schwartz.
Schwartz said the purpose of the club hasn’t changed in the past century.
At that time, Flannery wrote: “It was the intention of the originator that this club should be made up of persons of all shades of opinion and should be an open forum for the expression of any honest opinion, and for the expression of any such opinion no one should be questioned in any other place. Conservative and radical were to meet on a common platform and treat with respect the right of the other to his views.”
In the early years of the Round Table two papers were presented at meetings and each monthly session lasted from 6 to 10 p.m., Schwartz said. In 1954 it was decided to have only one paper presented at each meeting and the sessions are frequently over by 8:30.
“The usual length of each presentation is 30 minutes and a member makes his presentation on the average of once every three years,” Schwartz said.
The first meeting of the Round Table was held in the Grill Room of the Hotel Howald, which was noted for its fine food.
Since April 18, 1914, however, the women of Trinity Episcopal Church have cooked and served the meals.
The club has met there continuously since then except for a period starting during World War II, when Club President Cy Fitton “reluctantly announced that because of ration points and the difficulty of procuring food the Trinity Church’s Women’s Guild would not be able to serve meals in the future to the Club.”
“Fortunately the Y.M.C.A. and the Anthony Wayne Hotel furnished meals and meeting rooms until April 1952 when Round Table returned to Trinity Church,” Schwartz said.
The Round Table has a strict policy of confidentiality, its members pledging to not let discussions about the topic of the evening leave the room, although the Butler County Historical Society has collected the Round Table essays and a selection of essays can be read on the club’s website, www.roundtablehamilton.org.
The club has “stepped outside its mission of private club discussion to public advocacy very rarely,” Schwartz said.
“In the late 1980s it endorsed the low-level dam on the Great Miami River,” he said. “Prior to that decision, the only Round Table action was in support of the adoption of the Hamilton City Charter in 1928.”
The Round Table roster over the years reads like a Who’s Who in community leadership in Hamilton, Fairfield and Butler County, Schwartz noted, including members of Congress, state legislators, mayors, city councilmen, county commissioners, judges, school board members, other public officials and key executives in business and industry.
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