The original Tempe Rotary Club was chartered on Valentine’s Day in 1923, on the eleventh anniversary of Arizona’s statehood. The club was registered with Rotary International on February 26, 1923 as Club 1280. The original Tempe Club merged with the Tempe East in 2013 to become the Rotary Club of Tempe Downtown.
The first meetings were held in the backroom in what was then the City Confectionery in a storefront just south of the what is now the Mill Avenue Shops on the west side of Mill Avenue between Fifth and Fourth Streets. After meeting at various other places, the Club moved to Monti’s La Casa Vieja until November, 2014 when Monti’s closed. The Club now meets at Macayo’s on Ash in Downtown Tempe.
The Club has always been a leader among the Arizona Rotary Clubs, and on occasion hosted Rotary International founder Paul Harris for makeup meetings. The Club has been involved in many significant projects, both locally and globally, among them being work with the Tempe Library, the VA Hospitals, the TCAA Food Drive, the Tempe Adult Day Health Care Center, Junior Achievement of Arizona, 100 Miles to End Polio, the Dictionary Project, the Pakistan Notebook Project, The Boys and Girls Club, The Centers For Habilitation, Rotary and Joseph Dwight parks maintenance, and many others. The Club is also involved with the City of Tempe Plan 2040.
The Club has been honored to be the home of many District Governors, including Fred Joyce, Joseph Dwight, Robert Lytie, Frank Crane, and Barb Feder.
MEETING SITES OVER TIME
Rotary came to Tempe in 1923. The first club was organized on Valentine’s day, which at the time was Arizona’s 11th birthday. It was known at the time as the “Admission Day Club.” Fred J. Joyce was the organizing chairman, and he was elected the first club president. The club was designated #1280 in Rotary International on February 26, 1923. The first meetings were held in City Confectionery, now a storefront just south of the Mill Avenue Shops on the west side of Mill between 4th and 5th Streets. The bill for the first meeting was $12.50. The meetings were held in a dining room at the rear of the building. Late in 1923 the Club moved to Curry Hall which was over the Tempe Hardware store and continued there until 1930 when the American Legion Hall on 5th Street became available. The ladies of the Methodist church served the meals for 24 years at those two sites. Other meeting places over the years included the Sands Motel, Ferguson’s Cafeteria, the Holiday Inn, and finally Monti’s. Our Club was first affiliated with District #8, and as Rotary International grew, we progressed to #43, #111, #166, #549, #550 and now #551. We have supplied 3 District Governors from the club. Most Area clubs trace their roots to our Club.