Theater club

History with HLOM: Holland Club was happening | Lifestyles

Social clubs were all the rage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Batavia was no different.

Several clubs of this ilk were established in the village, then in the city, in and around the busy public transport to and from the main street. Perhaps the best known was the Batavia Club, which was housed in the former Bank of the Genesee building on the corner of Main and Bank (now home to the Genesee-Orléans Regional Arts Council). However, there was another club, which was the opposite of the Batavia Club both physically and philosophically, the Holland Club.

The Holland Club got organized on November 3, 1902, when its members found their first location, renting the Wakeman House at 212 E. Main St. The club started with 75 members, and membership fees rose. at $ 5 initiation, then at a dollar. each month. The building initially did not meet the specifications for a distinguished social club, as such members hired workers to make improvements to the structure to make it a more suitable clubhouse. Soon after, they were able to purchase the building and looked to make further improvements, spending $ 3,000 to create additional space. The Holland Club continued to grow its membership, and in October 1912 another addition was built to house a meeting room large enough for all members.

The club itself was an active group, specializing in physical and social events, its most unique part being its Gun Club. Regular shooting meetings were held, and in 1909 the Holland Club purchased the State Shooting Range on Law Street for the use of its members. They also had tennis courts built behind the clubhouse.

During the winter months, club events were held indoors. From 1908 to 1922, the Holland Club brought together singers and performers from all over Batavia and Genesee County, known as Holland Minstrels, to perform live at the Dellinger Theater on back-to-back evenings. The choir consisted of 50 or more male singers, and other performers performed skits and skits written by members of the club. As members got older, activities shifted to less intensive activities such as bridge tournaments instead of shooting or tennis tournaments.

Over time, the number of Holland Club members continued to grow, even reaching 200 members.

The Holland Club has maintained a friendly rivalry with its neighboring club across the main street, the Batavia Club, throughout its existence. A major difference between the two organizations was the inclusion of a bar at the Batavia Club. This sparked a nickname joke between the two, the Holland Club being called the “Drys”, while the Batavia Club was the “Wets”.

In the 1930s, membership declined from which the club never recovered. It is possible that the decline of the Holland Club was due to the lack of a bar to serve drinks. Around this time, the on-site tennis court was leased to the Graystone Tennis Club, and in 1934 the shooting range was sold. Membership dues were quickly increased for those who remained to cover the ever increasing costs of maintaining the building at 212 E. Main St.

In 1935 the building and grounds were purchased by Charles Mancuso and Son and that year the club was dissolved for good.

The last Holland Club members were offered membership in the Batavia Club and 30 members accepted the offer. Eventually, the building was demolished and replaced by the Mancuso Office Building. Today, the site next to the old Mancuso Theater is home to several businesses.

Ryan Duffy is Executive Director of the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia. His column “History with the HLOM” appears twice a month in The Daily News. To read the previous columns, go to