Many newspapers gave detailed accounts of the Salt Lake Commercial Club founding in 1902. The organization was overseen by the state’s Gov. Heber M. Wells, former Gov. Arthur Thomas, C.A. Strevell and George T. Odell. The official incorporation papers were filed on Feb. 11, 1902. The next day, the 15 member board of governors was organized and hired its first club secretary (equivalent to today’s president and CEO), Fisher Harris.
The first year was a drought year, and Club members were kept busy finding ways to improve the valley’s water supply. In November, the Club’s water committee met and endorsed a plan to build a reservoir in Parley’s Canyon. The group also sponsored a lecture by Lenora Austin Hamlin, a leading women’s suffragist and activist. She spoke about the “Commercial Value of Civic Beauty.” The group was also credited with readjusting fire insurance rates for businesses and improving street railway traffic.
By the end of the first year, the Club had grown from less than 100 members to 330. The Club’s 20 well-decorated rooms at the Menzies Building on West Temple were said to have become the most popular in town after its inception.