Happy Birthday Saturn! A History of Saturn Presents

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Happy Birthday Saturn! A History of Saturn Presents

The Saturn Club has several important dates that could be considered a “birthday”. Lucky for us, they’re all in October.

Birthday #1:  On the evening of October 21, 1885, 13 charter members met at one member’s mother-in-law’s house at 704 Main Street to adopt the constitution, by-laws, and house rules. This was closely followed by the first meeting of the Faculty on October 27 and the first meeting of the full Club (12 of 18 members) on October 31. Having been started in 1885, the Club is 136 years old.

Birthday #2:  The cornerstone of the new Clubhouse was laid on October 21, 1921.  This makes October 21 of this year the centennial anniversary of the new Clubhouse groundbreaking.

Birthday #3:  The Clubhouse at 977 Delaware was officially opened with a ceremonial parade from the previous Clubhouse on October 21, 1922. This date is memorialized in the stained-glass window in the Main Lounge, which was a gift in 1927. Next October will be the 100th anniversary of the building.

So, October seems like the perfect time to wish Saturn and our Clubhouse a very Happy Birthday! While leafing through our historical records and trying to decide how best to commemorate Saturn’s birthday, I kept finding references to the many gifts (ranging from the practical to the decidedly not practical) members and others have given the Club over the years. While it should first be stated that every member’s presence is a present (along with the timely payment of your dues), I found three interesting trends in the physical donations recorded.

Trend #1:  Presents from other clubs

This category surprised me the most, which is why I wanted to start here. I had no idea that clubs gave each other presents for significant events. I suppose presents between clubs makes sense given the fact that the members and General Managers are on friendly terms. Saturn was, after all, founded by the sons of Buffalo Club members to be a less formal club.

There is a specific Saturn-Buffalo Club story that I would like to highlight. Saturn seems to have started the trend in 1917 with an engraved 13-quart sterling silver punch bowl for the Buffalo Club’s 50th birthday. The Buffalo Club reciprocated in 1922 for the Saturn Clubhouse opening with a Flemish court cupboard, which is now in the Main Hall. The Buffalo Club followed that gift for our 90th birthday with a watercolor painting of Saturn’s Clubhouse, and the 100th birthday with an 18th-century grandfather clock.

As an amateur gift critic, these appear to be normal 20th-century gifts, more symbolic of a meaningful relationship between organizations than a practical item Saturn needed for club operation. My favorite of these three is the watercolor painting which feels more personalized than the other items. The cupboard, though, is the surprise star of this trio and remains to this day one of the most valuable pieces of furniture at the Club. Truly the gift that keeps on giving. It seems a bit of a shame that engraved silver punch bowl-based beverages aren’t as trendy as they used to be, with a mysterious Halloween dry ice concoction being the exception. This is one trend millennials can’t take cred-it for killing, but maybe we can all bring it back post-covid along with the crockpot cook off.

Trend #2:  One questionable gift

To be completely transparent, I wrote this entire article and did a bunch of research just so I could bring up this one particular gift from 1965 which fascinates me. When you roam the halls of Saturn, there are surprisingly few stuffed animal heads adorning the walls considering the Club started as a gentlemen’s social club. There are a few tiny deer in the Grill, and not much else even in the Cabin, which is designed to look like a hunting lodge.

Did this member feel like the Club was running short on stuffed animals? Was there an inside joke involved? Did their spouse/partner or perhaps a professional home decorator insist on the departure of this piece? My money’s on the latter, but the true reason may be lost to history. All I can figure out is that in 1965, a member donated a stuffed mongoose and cobra. These two non-native New York species are arranged in an enteral standoff. I’m told the Club still has this piece, but has it kept in storage.

Planning to host a divorce party at Saturn, or maybe a children’s story time of Rikki Tikki Tavi? You are in luck! Saturn has the perfect stuffed mongoose and cobra for just such an event. Why do we have that? I don’t know, but I’ll bet that other venue does not.

Trend #3:  The Saturn Club Historic Preservation Foundation

The Foundation, for anyone unfamiliar, is a separate legal entity that is set up to provide grants for preservation work performed on the historic portion of the Clubhouse (aka not the athletic facility). It’s no small dedication of time, expense and lawyer hours to have a building designated as a historic landmark in the first place, then to additionally set up a Charitable Foundation. 16 years ago when the Saturn Foundation started, it was one of a few. Today the Foundation remains one of only five in Western New York, though more clubs have shown interest in pursuing this option.
Posted: 10/6/2021 11:52:45 AM by Saturn Club | with 0 comments

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Welcome to the Saturn Club's blog. Here you will find stories about our club, our members, and more! These stories will cover a wide range of topics that represent what our members and staff find interesting, even if it is not directly about the Club.
The Saturn Club
Thanksgiving at Saturn
Halloween at Saturn
Halloween & Fall Celebrations at Saturn
Robert Seth, Club Manager of the Year
Happy Birthday Saturn! A History of Saturn Presents

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