1953 was the year when in one small room on Chicago's Gold Coast, Burton Browne and a select few, re-created the "Good Old Days" of the early 1900's. Enhanced by the rare combination of relaxation and entertainment, one could enjoy the excellent Bill of Fare and toast the evening with vintage wine or a generous cocktail. Inspired by the nostalgia of the zany 20's, they stepped back in time to another fabulous period, complete with Dixieland Jazz, drinks served in coffee mugs, a slot in the door - "Speakeasy" come to mind? The ambiance of this era had again come alive - The Gaslight Club was born.
There were 300 invited guest at the first grand opening and what a success! Initial members set up extra tables and even the Liquor Commission for the state of Illinois helped behind the bar and this was only the beginning. The fun was contagious and in 1956 the New York Club opened it's doors in a plush old mansion. Elizabeth Taylor was New York's favorite Gaslight Girl while filming scenes there for Butterfield 8, for which she won and Academy Award. Next came Washington's Club in 1959 and on to Paris in 1961. O'Hare opened in 1973, and still the openings continued.
After Burton Browne's death in 1976, Robert Fredricks, a then member of the Board, took the reins until 1984 when long-time member Jim Roberts Jr. became the owner and brought the Clubs back to there plush ambiance... However, slowly all the Clubs were phased out and only the The O"Hare Club is still in existence. Although the speakeasy has evolved to the "Top Hat" and Dixieland Jazz is now mixed with a variety of live entertainment, the tradition of beautifully costumed servers with a song and a smile, has remained. As Mr. Browne said years ago; Beauty, charm and talent make a winning combination. We continue to prove him right.
I have been affiliated with the O'Hare Gaslight Club since 1974 in various positions and I am proud to say we have retained the posh opulence, replete with distinctive wallpaper, carpeting, a European Crystal Chandelier and of course, The Gaslight Girls. All this available to our members and their guest.
And who knows? Maybe the future will hold openings of other clubs, promising good times - good friends and fond memories.
Enjoy your time spent with us.
Ranko "Ray" Dabizljevic
Ranko "Ray" Dabizljevic
History of Ownership