The Beginning
Founded in June of 1909 and incorporated in November of the same year, The University Club of Rochester was formed to promote social commerce amongst its members throughout the Rochester area. Membership in this private club was restricted to men who were graduates of colleges or universities and had made Rochester their home. In January of 1910, the club opened its first clubhouse at 50 Gibbs Street, and a location at 18 Chestnut Street followed in November of 1914. In order to accommodate a rapidly increasing membership, a third clubhouse was built on what at that time was called Williams Street, later renamed Broadway. This last location is now The Inn on Broadway. Designed by architect Leon Stern and completed in 1929, The University Club's main clubhouse was a showpiece and an anchor for the quickly developing East Avenue area.
The University Club
For many years,The University Club was a well-known and respected social center for its members and their guests. The 2nd floor Grand Ballroom was famous for its weekly dinners and dances, weddings, and gala events. The third and fourth floors were overnight and long-term accommodations available to members, and men working in town on short-term contracts who had reciprocal memberships with their hometown University Club; in all there were 139 other cities with University Clubs at that time.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Click Photo to Enlarge)
The Architecture
As a complement to the elegant and dramatic structural design, the architect had planned for ten murals to grace the walls of the grandiose University Ballroom. Painted during construction in 1929 by Erwin Merzweiler, a German immigrant artist who also worked with stained glass and furniture, the murals depict scenes of Rochester in the 1920's. Several of them showcase structures that are no longer in existence. For this reason, the murals provide a richly detailed and one-of-a-kind artistic record that is invaluable to Rochester's local history. In 1990, The University Club began a mural restoration project privately funded by its members, benefactors, and Board of Directors. The restoration left the murals in archival-quality condition, ensuring that these scenes of the past would be preserved for all to see.
1990s
Shortly thereafter, in 1992, The University Club fell on hard times. A new tax law was passed, disallowing club dues as deductible business expenses.This, combined with the widespread layoffs of middle management from large companies, resulted in a sharp decline in membership. On June 1, 1996, in an attempt to save the University Club, the Board of Directors split the Club into three semi-independent clubs. The main building became The City Club, the athletic annex behind it (now part of News-10 NBC) that opened in 1991 became The Athletic Club, and the 40-acre summer retreat in Mendon that opened in 1972 became The Country Place. Each club gained a portion of the members and began its own membership drive. These drives eventually failed, even after decreasing dues, and in 1997 the club was forced to refinance the mortgage held by the University of Rochester. Unfortunately this did not end the hardship for the University Club: in 1999 the Club transferred the property's title to The Upstate National Bank and began leasing the building from them. Within a matter of months, they were forced to sell their assets under Chapter 7, and The University Club voted to disband.

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Reopen
Shortly thereafter, the building reopened under new management as The Inn on Broadway for special events in the ballroom and light dining in the Tavern. By spring of 2000, new construction began to transform the landmark building into a luxury boutique hotel. With minimal changes to the structural portions of the building, the architectural integrity of the original design was retained. In December of that year, the Inn opened its doors and hosted its first overnight guests on the third and fourth floors in over 16 years.
Restored for Today
In 2006, the University Ballroom was restored and expanded to include the smaller Collegiate Room. This expansion warranted the removal of one large wall containing pocket doors and two of the ten murals. Efforts were made to save the murals, and to everyone's surprise it was discovered that they were not frescoes as originally thought. The murals were actually painted on thick oil canvas and were then mounted to the already dried plaster and secured with molding. The two murals were successfully saved and replaced on the walls with little stress to the artwork itself. With the renovations complete and the seating capacity increased, the ballroom once again was ready to host the gala events so reminiscent of its grand past.