Huaco Club

Built in 1912, the Huaco Club was very much a playground for Waco’s wealthier residents. From golf and tennis to social events, affluent Wacoans enjoyed spending time at the country club, located near Sanger Avenue and Twenty-Ninth Street.

Desiring to create a membership-only leisure space that would be comparable to those found in larger cities, several leading society figures organized and signed the charter for the Huaco Club on May 20, 1910. The charter called for $40,000 to be raised with 200 members purchasing shares of $200 apiece. The charter stated: “The purpose for which this corporation is formed is to support and maintain a country club for the promotion and encouragement of outdoor life, the games of golf and tennis and other innocent sports and amusements.” In 1913, the shareholder number met its goal. By October 1915, it had 183 stockholders with 63 associate members.

Roy E. Lane, the respected architect behind the Amicable building and St. Francis on the Brazos Catholic Church, designed the three-story building to suit the leisure preferences of Waco’s affluent. The clubhouse included two dining rooms, offices, living rooms, a parlor, reading room, and ballroom. Its spacious fifty acres allowed room for a bowling alley, tennis courts, and a nine-hole golf course.  In fact, the Huaco Club was the first golfing facility of its kind in Waco.

The club was more than just about sports—it was a meeting place for many Wacoans and out-of-town visitors. Many well-known Waco businessmen and prominent male and female citizens were on its membership rolls. The club frequently hosted “high-society” functions such as luncheons, dinner parties, dances, weddings, and banquets. 

Unfortunately, the success of the club was to be shortlived. On January 4, 1917, the Huaco Club lost its clubhouse and surrounding structures to a devastating fire. The next morning’s Waco Morning News reported: “Not a stick of the building or its contents was saved.” The club’s president, Dr. J. W. Hale, estimated that the fire’s destruction of the facility amounted to $70,000. In 1917, that was a hefty sum—in today’s money, that would equal nearly $2.3 million. Apart from the clubhouse and its furnishings, the club’s stock of golf equipment for sale and members’ personal gear were lost as well.

A report published soon after the fire in Safety Engineering, “Recent Fires and Their Lessons,” stated “Cause unknown” for the Huaco Club fire. But fire investigators concluded that losses were aided in part by the club’s late fire alarm system causing a delayed response by firefighters. It was also believed that its construction of easily combustible material enabled flames to quickly engulf the structures.

Even though the Huaco Club and its contents were insured for approximately $26,000—far less than the $70,000 loss caused by the fire—plans for another golf facility soon went forward. Chartered on August 27, 1917, and built circa 1920, the remaining club members opened a new facility, Spring Lake Country Club, at Day’s Lake in what is now Lacy-Lakeview. It included a larger course with eighteen holes and an elaborate clubhouse. In a similar fashion as its predecessor, the new club continued to carry on various recreational as well as social functions. Meanwhile, the land the club occupied around Twenty-Ninth and Sanger Avenue was developed into one of Waco’s early “suburbs."

Images

Souvenir Postcard

Souvenir Postcard

Roy E. Lane, one of Waco's most prominent architects, designed the main clubhouse in such a manner that its members could enjoy the great outdoors while still being comfortably situated within an elegant structure with modern amenities. The ample patio space and large windows offer panoramic views of the surrounding golf course. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Living Room

Living Room

After a spirited game of tennis or golf, Huaco Club members could retire to one of the building's many elaborately furnished sitting rooms. No expense seems to have been spared in fitting the room with quality light fixtures, artisan chairs, and tasteful botanical touches. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Social Drinking

Social Drinking

The Huaco Club contained a full bar with all the service its affluent male clientele would expect from such a reputable establishment. The bar area is designed to foster conversation amongst its patrons, and the ornate lighting fixtures, pillars, and beer steins elevate the space from being an average watering hole. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

A Space for Feasting

A Space for Feasting

The clubhouse possessed two dining rooms, making it an ideal location for society luncheons, dinner parties, and banquets. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Perfect for Dancing

Perfect for Dancing

The ballroom on the third floor of the clubhouse hosted its fair share of society dances and wedding receptions. The elevated stage allowed musicians to perform without fear of accidental interference by dancers. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Clubhouse Grounds

Clubhouse Grounds

The Huaco Club featured its own water tower to ensure that the grounds and facility would not be vulnerable to dry spells. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

The Demise of a Grand Building

The Demise of a Grand Building

On January 4, 1917, the Huaco Club lost its clubhouse and surrounding structures to a devastating fire. The next morning's Waco Morning News reported: "Not a stick of the building or its contents was saved." | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: E. C. Blomeyer View File Details Page

Surveying the Damage

Surveying the Damage

Dismayed members of the Huaco Club journeyed to the site to take in the burnt remains of their favorite recreation site. As perhaps was fitting, the clubhouse which attracted so much attention in the prime of operation, also drew a crowd when it was reduced to smoking rubble. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: E. C. Blomeyer View File Details Page

Significant Losses

Significant Losses

The fire's heat was intense enough to melt the steel lockers that contained the club's sporting equipment. Dr. J, W. Hale, the club's president, estimated that the destruction amounted to $70,000. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: E. C. Blomeyer View File Details Page

Admist the Ashes

Admist the Ashes

The remains of the white limestone mantel, a gift from the Huaco clubhouse's architect, Roy E. Lane, mostly withstood the inferno. Here, it stands isolated as one of the last noticeable features of a once prominent building. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: E. C. Blomeyer View File Details Page

Audio

First Date

Adrienne Wilkes Olenbush tells of the first date she had with her husband at the Huaco Club. | Source: Olenbush, Adrienne Wilkes, interviewed by Susan Monaghan, October 21, 1975, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Golf and Tennis

Adrienne Wilkes Olenbush describes the facilities at the Huaco Club. | Source: Olenbush, Adrienne Wilkes, interviewed by Susan Monaghan, October 21, 1975, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Geoff Hunt, “Huaco Club,” Waco History, accessed July 27, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/87.

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