Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Raise the Rutherford!

Part III – Hayes in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Athletic Club

A continuing, slightly humorous series to raise awareness of Rutherford B. Hayes and erect a statue of him in Cincinnati.

It is noted that Rutherford B. Hayes was a member of Cincinnati Young Men’s Gymnastic Association (YMGA). This eventually became the Cincinnati Gymnasium & Athletic Club (CGAC) and ultimately the Cincinnati Athletic Club (CAC). The YMGA was founded in 1853 and according to the History of the Cincinnati Athletic Club, Hayes was President of the YMGA from 1860 – 1861. I do not know precisely when Hayes became a member. And Hayes mentions going to "the gymnasium" in his diary and letters at the Hayes Presidential Center as early as 1850. I do not know where he went. For instance, an excerpt in Part I of the ‘Hayes in Cincinnati’ series describes to his Uncle going to the gymnasium. Then below are three references from his diary in 1851:

July 16.--P. M.
Hot, hotter, hottest, and growing more so. But there is a fine air stirring. My blood circulates healthfully. I exercised an hour before dinner at the gymnasium, and feel well, perfectly well. Am reading Ik Marvel's "Fresh Gleanings," --a pleasant book, dreamy and spirituelle, mixed with the spice of close, homely observation; a good hash, served up with the relish of pure, undefiled old English.

Tuesday, June 10.
A lovely day. Exercised an hour in the gymnasium before dinner; ate rather too much and feel stupid and sleepy in consequence. Have been reading Webster's speech in reply to Calhoun, delivered in 1833, on the question of the nature of our Constitution, the right of a State to "secede," "nullify," etc. It is a calm convincing argument, the very perfection of senatorial or judicial reasoning.

October 17, 1851.
And now under this beautiful October sun, mild, calm, heavenly, let me resolve to do what I ought to do for the six months coming. In law, read by course some standard text-book referring to authorities within my reach, especially to the Ohio cases. Examine to the bottom every point of practice or point of law in my own business which occurs to me.
In general literature, read Burke, Shakespeare, and the standard authors constantly, and always have on hand some book of worth not before perused. Avoid occasional reading of a light character. Read always as if I were to repeat it the day afterwards.
Exercise daily at the gymnasium. Prepare to speak at the Club always, and to speak well. Prepare an address or lecture for the I. O. O. F. during the winter. Make no new female acquaintances; avoid soirees; call on old friends occasionally. Write good letters to absent friends, and attend church once each Sunday.

I can however speculate where Hayes went to the gym!

In the History of the Cincinnati Athletic Club, it is noted that many members came from Samuel Barrett’s gym. Barrett was a boxer and his gym was located on 3rd Street in Mrs. Trollop’s old Bazaar. Unhappy with the conditions and the non-central location of the gym, many left helping to form the YMGA. According to Cincinnati, A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, the Bazaar was located at 411 E. Third Street and would not have been far from Hayes’s early office and boarding house. I speculate it is possible that this is where Hayes would have gone prior to the formation of the YMGA in 1853 or his joining.

The Cincinnati Athletic Club has occupied four buildings in its history. At its founding, the YMGA was first located in the Apollo Building at the NW corner of Fifth & Walnut Streets.

In 1861 it moves to larger quarters in the Commercial Building at Fourth and Race Streets, pushed for by then Club President Rutherford B. Hayes.

In 1885 it moves from Fourth Street to the Grand Opera House on the west side of Vine Street between Fifth & Sixth Streets.

Then when that building is destroyed by fire, the now CGAC builds its own quarters in 1903 at 111 Shillito Place where the CAC is still located.

Cincinnati, A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors
History of the Cincinnati Athletic Club

Knerr, Douglas. "Moral Sport: Cincinnati’s Young Men’s Gymnastic Association" Timeline. Volume 14, Number 4. July/August 1997
Images from Library’s Cincinnati Memory Project unless noted otherwise below.
Image of Apollo Building from University of Cincinnati via University of Cincinnati Digital Press
Image of Commercial Building from Ohio Historical Society via "Moral Sport" article.

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