By Rotary Heritage Communications staff
Each year, thousands of visitors to Rotary headquarters experience Room 711, a recreation of the office where, on 23 February 1905, Paul Harris met with three acquaintances to start a club based on “mutual cooperation and informal friendship.”
The original office was located in the former Unity Building on Dearborn Street in downtown Chicago. In 1980, local Rotary members rented it and gathered period furnishings and fixtures to re-create the look and feel of an early 20th century office. Later, they organized the Paul Harris 711 Club to continue supporting the room and the story it tells. When the Unity Building was set to be demolished in 1989, they dismantled the room and arranged to rebuild it later at Rotary world headquarters.
The room was initially recreated on the 16th floor of One Rotary Center. We relocated it to the first floor as part of a remodeling in 2014, improving access for visitors who come to Evanston.
We wanted to give our members around the world an opportunity to experience the room without traveling to Evanston so we created a virtual tour.
Virtual visitors can guide themselves through the room and click on select items to learn about them and about Chicago during the era when Paul Harris moved to Chicago and started Rotary. The interactive tour isn’t just for people who can’t come to Evanston. It offers elements not available onsite, such as audio recordings of Paul Harris (hint: click on the phone). Armchair travel is encouraged!
This year, 23 February, marks the 114th anniversary of Rotary. Read more about Room 711 and take the virtual tour.
This is one of several spaces at Rotary headquarters that visitors can walk through to learn more about Rotary. Find out how you can schedule a tour.