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The History

Rooted in Tradition, Evolving with the City

In 1891, The University Club was created “to promote social intercourse among ourselves and the encouragement of literature.” It was understood that the intellectual riches of a university education were only the beginning of a truly good and satisfying life. Today, that vision has not changed. The current clubhouse was dedicated in 1895 with major additions taking place in 1923, 1957, and 1980. 


Tradition has been an important part of the University Club of Denver since its founding in 1891. Some of the Club's traditions are based on reverence and others on a sort of irreverence; we make a concerted effort not to take ourselves too seriously! This may be a major reason as to why our Club has survived and flourished, while other clubs have come and gone. 

To fully appreciate the University Club's experience, a member should know: What tradition means to us, how it is manifested, and where it lives. Naturally, tradition is rooted in what we do and where we do it.

It is good friends enjoying a heritage of camaraderie in a timeless building that spells, Tradition

On the third Friday evening of October, the University Club holds its Annual Meeting: a tradition-filled, members only, black tie affair. Upon arriving, members enjoy libations and light bites before making their way into the College Room for dinner and the marking of ballots for the Board of Directors and the Committee on Admissions. 

In the College Room, large bowls of steamed clams decorate the long tables, being continually replenished until members are ready to conduct business. The business meeting itself takes little time, and generally consists of the unanimous waiving of the last meetings minutes and the year-end Treasurer's Report.

The Annual Meeting is then commemorated with a live band upon which singing, dancing and inevitable laughter ensues. 

The Order of the Gilded Clam

The highlight of the Annual Meeting is always the awarding of the Gilded Clam, an honor initiated in 1923. Each year a special committee presents this coveted honor to a few fortunate recipients selected from the membership and staff.

The presentations are wildly irreverent, and the selection criteria are blissfully indefinable. Thereafter, the recipients proudly wear the small clam abed a red ribbon with their formal attire at U Club events!


Twelfth Night is undoubtedly the University Club's best-known and most prized tradition. The Twelfth Night shows are a spoof of local, national and international personalities and happenings of the previous year. Each annual show is written and presented by the Club's members in early January- no person or event is immune from the good spirited lampooning! 

The Club's Twelfth Night origins date back to when we settled into our newly built clubhouse on Sherman Street. With the opening slated for January 1, 1896, some members believed that the Club should not open with "old" booze, and set to finishing off the supply that had been brought from the old Club on New Year's Eve. What real success they had in that endeavor is unknown, but a simple story-telling contest emerged during that effort. So the members planned another for the following year. 

Around the Wassail Bowl in 1897, roughly twelve nights after Christmas, Twelfth Night began to evolve. The celebration harkened back to midwinter celebrations and even took on characteristics of certain medieval English festivals.

Nowadays, Twelfth Night kicks off in late October or early November when the King or Queen (the new Club President, elected right after the Annual Meeting), appoints the chairman of the show, known as The Fool.

To assist The Fool, a retreat is held in early December for those who write songs or dialogue, or otherwise help with the production of the show. At the retreat, food and drink stimulate the flow of creative juices. The King or Queen is also invited to attend, whether or not he or she has ever demonstrated any creative talent, whatsoever. 

Rehearsals begin in January and are held for approximately two weeks in the College Room. All Club Members are invited to participate in the production; New Members are especially encouraged to join the fray. The rehearsals themselves are great, light-hearted fun and often feature boisterous chorus renditions of "Down on the Farm," honoring the Fool, the King/Queen, the Music Director, the Assistant Fool and other worthy contributors to the shows success.

Twelfth Night 

Twelfth Night itself is a black tie affair, held on a Saturday evening. For the cast and past presidents of the Club, the evening starts with the President's Cocktail Party. With greetings of "Happy Twelfth Night," the rest of the assembled membership gathers for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the upstairs bar and reading room.

Following a sumptuous dinner in the conversion of the College Room from a banquet hall to a theater, a raucous Twelfth Night parade begins. The oldest living Fool in attendance leads the parade, followed by a live band. The chefs and waiters carry litters of food (including a roasting suckling pig) and all the other delicacies to be served at the midnight supper. Then come U Club's past presidents in their regal robes, the King or Queen, the Fool and finally, the costume members of the cast. 

When order has been restored and the members are seated, the Twelfth Night show begins with the Fool, bedecked in a jester's colorful costume, stepping through the closed curtain, looking up from the stage to the balcony, proclaiming: "M'Lord, again, the players are assembled!" Thus begins the snappy King-Fool dialogue, which always concludes with the royal commandment: "Let mirth be unrefined!" The curtain then parts, as the cast belts out the opening chorus. 

A remarkable performance follows that which can only be experienced. 


Thanksgiving Dinner

This delectable holiday dinner combines elements of a fine club dining experience with a family touch. Turkeys are served by our exceptional staff. The event is a perennial favorite.  

Gingerbread Houses

Every December the University Club hosts a Gingerbread House Decorating event. The Club bears the fuss of cleanup as you and your family are able to get into the holiday spirit amongst other families enjoying gingerbread decorating as well as a delicious buffet spread presented by our talented kitchen staff. This event has become a staple and has helped the Club become a trans-generational family place. 

Christmas Dinner Dance 

The Christmas Dinner Dance is always a popular formal affair. Although most clubs have a similar holiday event, ours is distinguished by the setting, the sumptuous cuisine and the convivial membership, all followed by live music and dancing. 

Christmas Eve Dinner 

Carolers roam the festively decorated rooms, warbling favorite carols while members and guests enjoy the finest of food. Filled with the holiday spirit, ultimately everyone joins in a lively rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with each table lustily chiming in with its assigned verse. 

New Years Day 

The Club holds a fabulous reception on New Year's Day for members and guests. A superbly lavish buffet including mimosas and bloody marys signifies this event. This gathering has been a fan favorite for decades. 

Valentine's Day Dinner Dance 

Romance has its place at the Club in February, as the sweethearts gather for this event. Fine music and fine food abound as the couples move lightly across the College Room dance floor. Presumably, live music and full hearts fill the space. 

Easter Brunch (and children's Easter egg hunt)

The springtime giggles of children grace the place in this relatively new event! The children are the focus, as magicians, clowns and staff members try to keep up. Replete with pastel eggs and Easter bunnies, this brunch is always one of the Club's most anticipated family events. 

Mother's Day Brunch

We all know mother deserves a treat, and this is where the Club truly excels. Every year, moms are made to feel special and pampered at our home away from home on Sherman Street.  

The rooms at the University Club of Denver accommodate the events that engage us, keep us amused and sustain us from year to year. Used for everything from member meetings to social events, the footprints of tradition are apparent throughout the club.

The College Room 

In the College Room, hand-crafted collegiate seals embellish the great windows. On the South end of the hall sits the University Club crest, displayed over the great fireplace. This memorial fireplace was a gift from the widow of the Club's inaugural president, Henry Treat Rogers, and the crest (modeled after a memorial tower at Yale University) was designed by Yale alumni, James Grafton Rodgers and Richard H Hart.