ML - Michigan Avenue

2013 - Issue 5 - September

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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Page 138 of 163

SWORN TO SECRECY PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIA PONCE BERRE The fabled Chicago Club remains tight-lipped about its influence. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Janine Mileaf, the Arts Club of Chicago's executive director; a gallery within the Arts Club; The Standard Club, at Jackson Boulevard and State Street; a fireplace at the Union League. Among the city's bastions of discretion, the fabled Chicago Club—a lowprofile stomping ground for the city's most influential—has been one of the more silent. That may be changing, however. The club used to make a deliberate effort to keep reporters and photographers out, going as far as listing the directive in its bylaws. Only once did this decree flex, in 1982 when the Tribune's Jon Anderson was allowed inside for a 13-column exposé. Club General Manager Frank Stover says the rules have evolved recently to allow press, as long as it's at the behest of one of the club's 1,100 members. But there are still strict orders to not identify those members or get specific about club business. "Our members enjoy coming to a place where there's privacy and confidentiality," Stover says. "We like to say that it's a safe haven." Such confidentiality is necessary for sensitive business deals, but before women were admitted, it also had the benefit of avoiding gossip about the sometimes-boisterous gentlemen's club. (When Anderson visited, he learned of one New Year's party tradition: the "ribald, singing salute" to a portrait of a woman named "Aunt Clara," whom he described as having "splendid proportions.") Of course, the rambunctious atmosphere has since softened. Other habits have changed, too. "It has come from a two-hour, threemartini lunch to an hour with iced tea," Stover says. He believes there will always be a place for clubs like the Chicago, which offers sensitive stewardship of its members' business and cultural needs. "[The good clubs] adjust, but they keep their tradition and don't let down their guard." One highly positioned source within the club world (who asked to remain nameless) explains that the Chicago Club "is not known for their food, their programming, or the expansiveness of their facilities; they're known for their membership." In the past, that membership has included city giants— names like McCormick and Pullman and Lincoln—and more recently the chairmen of the city's museums and universities. But such a list is missing new-world members, and the club knows it. "Obviously the club is interested in young, future leaders," Stover says, explaining that the selection committee has made efforts to reach out to entrepreneurs in the burgeoning tech industry. "Down the road, they're going to have different desires than the current members, and that's something the club is going to adjust to. But we welcome them." MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM 130-137_MA_FEAT_Culture_Sept_13.indd 137 137 8/7/13 6:46 PM

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