The Old Colony Club of Plymouth, MA is the oldest active social club in the United States. The OCC was instituted at Old Colony Hall, Plymouth, on January 13, 1769.
This hall was located on Market Street just southwest of the Old Town House. It was 20 feet wide and 35 feet long, and it was occasionally used by the Club. John Thomas, one of the founders of the Club, owned the hall.
The purposes of the Club were stated as follows at the first meeting:
"We whose names are underwritten, having naturally weighed and seriously considered the many disadvantages and inconveniences that arise from intermixing with the company at the taverns in this town, and apprehending that a well regulated club will have a tendency to prevent the same, and to increase not only the pleasure and happiness of the respective members, but also will conduce to their edification and instruction, do hereby incorporate ourselves into a society, by the name of the Old Colony Club".
On December 22, 1769 the Old Colony Club for the first time celebrated the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. This new holiday eventually spread wherever New Englanders met across America during the 19th century.
The Old Colony Club occupied several buildings prior to acquiring the current clubhouse at 25 Court Street in Plymouth, MA. The first of these locations was in the old Hayward House, which was used until 1877. It was located at the site of the former fire station that now houses a restaurant on Main Street. Next was the Davis Hall building, across the street, which was used until 1889. This was more recently a Woolworth's department store. Prior to moving to the corner of Court and Brewster Streets in 1893 the Club was located in what is now the Plymouth Savings Bank building. The Old Colony Club then bought the building in which the Club still meets today.
Over the years, the Club has entertained many notable guests including U.S. Presidents John Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and Richard Nixon.
On December 22, 1956 an early morning celebration was reinstituted, with marching in top hats, band music, and the firing of a cannon. Following the march, members enjoyed a full breakfast and closed the morning’s events with the raising of our country's flag. These ceremonies were in memory of the Club's first celebration in 1769. The annual meeting and commemorative dinner followed in the evening. This tradition has continued each Forefather's Day since.
The 200th anniversary of the founding of the club was celebrated on January 13, 1969. The speaker featured at the gala dinner party was the Honorable Paul Cashman Reardon.
On September 12, 1970 the Old Colony Club began the opening day festivities of Plymouth's 350th Anniversary celebration.
On May 14, 1993 the membership celebrated 100 years of residency in the building at 25 Court Street. This included an evening gala with fine music, members in black tie and their wives and lady guests in evening gowns.
2019 saw the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Old Colony Club. A grand black-tie gala opened the year in January. The anniversary was not forgotten throughout the sestercentennial year that culminated in the especially well-attended Forefathers' Day events of the weekend of 21 December 2019. These events included a joint celebratory dinner with the Mayflower Society on Saturday the 21st. The Club's annual procession and related celebrations and labors were held on Monday the 23rd, the 22nd having fallen on a Sunday.
The Old Colony Club is rich with tradition, for tradition is the basis of the Club’s existence. Gentlemen interested in the camaraderie of the Old Colony Club are welcomed to visit the club with a member to share in the strong history which members enjoy.
Here is an interesting and much more detailed history of the Old Colony Club.
Old Colony Club
25 Court Street
PO Box 1774
Plymouth, MA 02362