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Issue Date: April 2005 Issue

Club Scout

The Union Club's $6.5 million renovation included the creation of a new reading room.
Kim Schneider

The wooden floors may still creak, but the Union Club's recent $6.5 million renovation has revived the downtown landmark's grandeur — uncovering original ceilings and stenciling — and upgraded the century-old building. Renovations to the 70,000-square-foot, five-level space were launched in hopes of attracting a younger, more diverse clientele to the club's membership roster, which has included five U.S. presidents (Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley and Taft) during its 132-year history. We recently stopped by for a look. Here's what we found inside.

• The club's bar has been moved to the front of the building. It was originally located in the back so Prohibition-era members could inconspicuously slip in for a drink.

• Paintings from the Western Reserve Historical Society are on display, featuring portraits of past members such as President McKinley. Most of the works had been in storage at the museum.

• A new fitness center, outfitted with an array of 26-inch LCD-screen televisions, allows club members to exercise while keeping an eye on the news or their favorite soap opera.

• The once-hidden women's restrooms on the first and second floors have been moved to a more central location on each level.

• In addition to an expanded kitchen with new walk-in coolers and freezers, the club's head chef has his own office with Internet access for on-the-fly culinary research.

• Lean back, prop your feet on the rest and enjoy a haircut in the barbershop's orange and cream antique reclining chair. An identical one is kept on hand for spare parts.

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