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Foos Building Commercial Club

Image of the building, unknown date


The Foos Building - The Commercial Club

The following was written by Donna Holmes in 2010.  Ms. Holmes was owner of the building and the Isle of Style salon located in the building.

The Corner of Walnut and Sugartree Streets

by Donna Homes

The building at the corner of Walnut and Sugartree Streets in Wilmington should have been called the Griffith Foos Building, as the original part of the building was built as a private residence for Mr. Foos in 1847.  The Victorian vernacular building was noted for its important location, stone lintels and sills, interior fireplaces and beautiful sweeping veranda.  Griffith Foos was a driving force in the early history of Wilmington.  He worked as a printer for H.P. Denney and Archibald Haynes at the Wilmington Argus between 1826-1827.  In 1829, he was admitted to the Clinton County Bar.  In 1836 he became the Mayor of Wilmington, and went on to serve as our State Senator in 1840-1841.  He died in 1857.

There have been several major add-ons and renovations to the building.  One of the first was the rear wing, added on in 1926 by the Commercial Club. All three stories were added to the east of the original home. 

The first Commercial Club was started in 1901 by a large number of business and professional men of Wilmington.  There were 60 charter members. A constitution and bylaws were adopted at a public meeting on March 12, 1901.  D.A. Lamb was chairman of the meeting, with first elected officers being:  Dr. George W. Wire, president; J.S. Kimbrough, vice president; Dr. Thomas L. Cooksey, secretary and Frank L. Gallop, treasurer. 

For some unknown reason, the club held active meetings for two years, then continued with a desultory existence until 1910, when they met to hold a protest against the dilatory tactics of the public utility company.  The meeting closed the career of the first Commercial Club of Wilmington.

Another Commercial Club was established on February 25, 1914 with the following officers:  M.R. Denver, president; G.P. Thorpe, vice president; H.H. Henderson, assistant secretary and Frank L. Gallop, treasurer.  The club grew quickly and within one month there were 144 members.  Admission fee was $5.00 and dues were $2.00 annually.

The object of the Commercial Club members was to promote the industrial, commercial and civic welfare of Wilmington.  They also endeavored to develop the manufacturing and industrial interests of the city and vicinity.  The club originally met at the Samuel Walker Memorial Building, but with the completion of the enlarged quarters at the building on the corner of Walnut and Sugartree in 1926, they began meeting there.

The club met on the second Friday of each month and accomplished much for the City of Wilmington.  It was instrumental in bringing about the paving of streets in 1914 and established a Fall Festival the same year.  The Club was active materializing the General Denver Hotel, as accommodations were needed for traveling members and guests.  By 1940, the era of the Commercial Club had ended and the building was purchased by the First Order of Eagles.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles was organized in Seattle, Washington in February 1898. It was founded upon the broad-minded principles of “Liberty, Truth, Justice, and Equality.”  The organization profoundly impresses its members with the sacred duties of life recognizing the “Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.”  On September 28, 1905 Hilda Aerie of Eagles was instituted in Wilmington, with 93 charter members.  The first meeting was held at the old Opera House.  Over the years, meetings were also held on the third floor of the Martin Building.

Upon purchase of the Commercial Club Building in 1940, one year was spent in major renovations to accommodate the Eagles’ activities.  Contract for General Construction was held by C.W. Fry Construction Company of Greenville, Ohio.  H.E. Spahr held the contract for plumbing and heating.  James M. England and Lowell Hyer were in charge of electrical wiring, while William Carson did the papering and painting.  Upon the $35,000 completion, the new home of Hilda Aerie No. 1224 Fraternal Order of Eagles was described as one of the finest lodge homes in southern Ohio.

In describing the new amenities of the building - you would find a handsome foyer, finished in knotty pine. There was a splendidly equipped bar on the first floor with a completely furnished kitchen.  Service from the bar and kitchen was available on the second and third floors via an elevator system.  Adjoining the bar area was a game room.   The first floor held the furnace room containing a large, modern hot water furnace with a stoker and storage space for a carload of coal.  A shower, bath and toilets were also included.

On the second floor, a lovey modern ladies lounge was established with the original fireplace being a focal point.  In the southeast corner of the second floor was a large recreation room and dance floor.  Pool tables and a phonograph were also installed.  The office of the lodge secretary was housed on the second floor.  On the third story was the large beautifully equipped lodge room.  At times, this floor was also used for dances.  Toilets were also installed on this floor.  All woodwork in the building was painted gleaming white and the windows had Venetian blinds.

An extensive program of events was planned at the newly renovated building for the week preceding the dedication on December 14, 1941.  First an Open House occurred on Sunday, the 7th.  More than 2,000 people flocked to the building to be shown through by the members of the Lodge.  However, most of the rest of the week’s celebration was cancelled, due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

In 1966, and extra one-floor wing was added to the building on the southwest corner for commercial use.  One-Hour Martinizing was the first tenant.  In 1972, another major renovation and construction took place to the southeast side.  The ground level was lowered and a two-story wing was added.  The lower commercial area was rented to surveyors and lawyers.

Robert Roth owned the building after the Eagles sold in 1986.  Divine Image Salon was a tenant from March 17, 2003 through 2008.  The building was seized by the US Marshals at this point and remained in their possession until March 2009, when DSH and Sons LLC purchased the building.  Another round of renovations included new paint, roof, furnaces and more.  The building was ready for occupancy by September 2009.  The Isle of Style moved in at this time, to be followed by CDL Accounting LLC in October.  In April 2010, other parts of the building were occupied by Living Word Apostolic Church and Clinton County Elite LLC.


History Center addendum: The history of Mr. Griffith Foos’ home, built in 1847, and its many changes and additions will end in 2015, when this building is razed.  After 167 years, a new history will begin at the corner of Walnut and Sugartree Streets.