The American Club of Buenos Aires had its original conception on September 18, 1914 when the then Consul General of the United States of America in Buenos Aires, Mr. Leo J. Keena, called together fifteen prominent members of the American Community at the old “Rotisserie Sportsman,” which was located on Calle Florida between Bartolomé Mitre and Rivadavia. At this meeting, “The American Luncheon Club” was founded, with Mr. Keena as Chairman and Mr. J.B. Sullivan as Secretary for the purpose of bringing together the men of the American Community.
After a few months, the meeting place was changed to the “Café de Paris,” located on the corner of Bartolomé Mitre and San Martin. On January 22, 1915 at a meeting attended by twenty-nine members, the Luncheon Club was converted to “The American Commercial Club” of Buenos Aires. Shortly thereafter, the new organization first obtained its own premises, when the Salon Rouge on the mezzanine of the Plaza Hotel was rented for club and committee rooms.
During this period, the Club had both commercial and social relations as its objectives. Frequent luncheons and dinners in the “Salon Rouge,” or larger affairs in the main dining rooms of the Plaza Hotel, gave the members opportunity to get together and to interchange ideas, but there was little opportunity for club activities and social affairs.
With the growth of the American Community and the increasing need of a body organized to represent its commercial interests in a more efficient manner, The American Commercial Club developed into two independent institutions, each better adapted to its special purpose than the original organization. Thus, on November 29, 1918, “The Chamber of Commerce” was organized, to which were transferred all the club’s files and strictly commercial activities. The word “Commercial” was dropped from the club’s name, which then became “The American Club of Buenos Aires.” This organization continued the former organization’s social activities in quarters in the Plaza Hotel.
The Club in 1921 then moved to a much larger and more complete quarters rented at Florida 570, which included a restaurant, billiard and card rooms, bar, bedrooms and other usual features of social clubs.
Later, in 1929, the Club moved to the National City Bank building, Bartolomé Mitre 530, in quarters especially built and equipped for the use of the Club. This included lounge and reading rooms, library, billiard and card rooms, bar, restaurant and bedrooms.
Then, in 1951, under the leadership of Mr. Lawrence Daniels, a corporation known as SINASA was formed to own and administer a 10 floor building to be constructed at Viamonte 1133, the top 4 floors of which would be assigned to the Club. Construction started in 1952 thanks to the generous purchase of SINASA shares by American companies, Members of the Club and other interested groups. On November 27, 1954, forty years after the initial steps of the Club’s formation, the American Club moved into its new quarters where it is still firmly established at Viamonte 1133, looking over the Teatro Colon.
The purpose of the Club continues to be “to promote Argentine-North American fraternity, to encourage social relations between the citizens of the United States, their sons and other persons resident in the Argentine Republic, and the bringing of them together in an appropriate place.” The desired and welcome result was shown with a membership of approximately 850 in 1968, including some 275 Associate Members, who are other than American citizens or their sons, and an active membership that is roughly 50% Argentine and 50% US citizens.
The Club today remains strong, although it is still recovering from a decrease in the size of the local American Community that began during the difficult years of the 1970s and has continued to date. Likewise, affecting the Club’s activities and growth has been the tendency of American families, resident in Buenos Aires, to migrate from the city center areas to the northern suburbs. To adjust to these economic challenges the Club had to sell a number of its assets, including three of its four floors in the Viamonte building. As a result of these changes, however, the American Chamber of Commerce decided to move to this same building and now, although the two entities still remain separate, they enjoy a much closer relationship with many of the Chamber’s events taking place on the Club’s current premises on the 10th floor. Also, around this same time, the Club first permitted the introduction of women as Members.
In 2019, Mr. Robert Urban was elected President of the Club marking the first time since the 1990s that the Club has an American President. At the same time, 7 of the 13 directors that make up the Club’s Board of Directors are now of United States nationality. The current Board, with its new directors from the local American business community, is determined to renovate the Club and restore its past prestige. To this end, the Board is placing its focus on making the Club the center of social activity for the American community and all American institutions located in this country, as well as restoring the Club as a center for discussion and debate on Argentine politics and the economy, strengthening the productive and friendly relations between the United States of America and the Argentine Republic.