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      National Press Club Washington DC


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      529 14th Street Northwest
      Washington, DC 20045

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      Neighborhood: Northwest Washington
      The National Press Club has been a part of Washington life for more than 90 years. Its members have included all of the Presidents of the United States ... read more
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      Description

      The National Press Club has been a part of Washington life for more than 90 years. Its members have included all of the Presidents of the United States since Theodore Roosevelt. Most have spoken from The Club's podium, some to declare their candidacies for the highest office in the land.

      On March 12, 1908, 32 newspapermen with $300 met in the Gridiron Room of the Willard Hotel (across 14th street from the current location of the National Press Building) and framed a constitution for the National Press Club.

      The Club founders laid down a credo which promised "to promote social enjoyment among the members, to cultivate literary taste, to encourage friendly intercourse among newspapermen and those with whom they were thrown in contact in the pursuit of their vocation, to aid members in distress and to foster the ethical standards of the profession."

      The first quarters of the Club on the second floor of 1205 F Street NW were quickly outgrown and in 1909, only a year after The Club's founding, a move was made to a building at the corner of 15th and F Streets, known as Rhodes Tavern. Then, from 1914 to 1927, The Club was located in the Albee Building at 15th and G Streets.

      When The Club was asked to move from the Albee Building, they negotiated an option on the old Ebbit Hotel at the corner of 14th and F Streets and constructed the current building on the site.

      The building and The Club were to struggle financially in the Depression, but the Club was on the way to being recognized as one of the world's premier journalistic organizations. Regular weekly luncheons for speakers began in 1932 with an appearance by President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt.

      An average of 70 luncheons each year provide a national forum for the views of Presidents, Prime Ministers, business and cultural leaders, members of the Cabinet and Congress. Over the years, major news has been made at The Club: Nikita Khrushchev, Winston Churchill, Madame Chiang Kai Shek, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Charles deGaulle, Boris Yeltsin, Nelson Mandela, Yasir Arafat and many others have made headlines at the Press Club podium.

      Even a brief history of The Club would be incomplete if it failed to mention a couple of examples of the stodginess in its internal affairs. The Club did not open its ranks to black reporters until 1955 and women were excluded until 1971.

      Today, women are welcomed as members and a correspondent for the Daily Oklahoman, Vivian Vahlberg, served as The Club's first woman president in 1982.

      To many of the men and women who belong to the National Press Club today, it is primarily one of the world's foremost news forums, "the sanctum sanctorum of American journalists," as CBS commentator Eric Sevareid said in a memorable retirement appearance at The Club. "It's the Westminster Hall, it's Delphi, it's Mecca," said Severeid, "the wailing wall (for) everybody in this country having anything to do with the news business; the only hallowed place I know of that's absolutely bursting with irreverence."

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