Designed by architect Russell Barr Williamson, student of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Eagles Club is a monumental 4-story structure considered to be the grandest Eagles building in America when it officially opened on September 13, 1927. Constructed by the finest craftsmen of its day, the Eagles Club truly is one of Wisconsin's most spectacular historic landmarks. The Milwaukee Eagles Club building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 29, 1986.
The Eagles organization was founded on February 6, 1898 by six men who wanted to establish "an order of good things" and to help the under privileged. The original name, Order of Goodfellows, was changed to the Eagles in 1899. The Milwaukee Aerie #137 was organized in 1901 by a group of theater men and included actors, playwrights, and stagehands. By 1941, the Milwaukee Aerie was the country's largest and by 1955 this building housed the national headquarters.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles is an international non-profit organization that focuses on affecting social justice. Major accomplishments include the establishment of Mother's Day, the creation of a social security program, and programs to eliminate age-related job discrimination. Illustrious members of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles include former United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Harry S. Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Other noteworthy Eagles include Vice President Walter Mondale, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
During the Eagles' tenure, the Eagles Club featured an athletic club with a two-story gymnasium, bowling alley, boxing ring, basketball court, handball courts and a 50'x75' swimming pool. There were also a variety of lounges, a barbershop, a radio station, a cafeteria, a pool hall, and a rooftop outdoor lounge. The building's crowning glory, however, was the Eagles Ballroom, widely considered to be the largest and most beautiful ballroom of its day.
From 1939 until the mid-1960s, the Eagles Ballroom was dubbed "Devine's Million Dollar Ballroom" and was a popular venue for big band music, theater, and the performing arts. In 1959, for just $1.50, fans attended the Winter Dance Party that featured Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Big Bopper, Dion and the Belmonts, and Ritchie Valens. The Eagles Club sponsored its first big rock concert in 1964 with the Dave Clark Five. Other notable performers include big band leaders Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo, and entertainers Bob Hope and Red Skelton.
By the late 1980s, the Eagles Club had fallen into disrepair and was put up for sale. In late 1992, the club was purchased and restored by Wauwatosa businessman Anthony J. Balestrieri and his wife Marjorie C. Balestrieri, a violinist for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Their goal was to restore the Eagles Club to its former grandeur and give young Milwaukeeans a place to enjoy live music.
In the mid-1990s, the name of the Eagles Club was changed to The Rave/Eagles Club to give the club a more contemporary image. The health club amenities were closed and the primary use of the facility became live entertainment. During the following years the bowling alley, pool hall, and barbershop were all converted into live music clubs and gradually the entire 150,000 square foot facility became the seven-venue live entertainment club that it is today.
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2401 West Wisconsin Avenue - Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233 USA - (414) 342-7283
* All information and concert schedule are subject to change without notice.
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