Santiago's Club de la Unión seen from the outside.
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September 2006

First female member at traditional Club de la Unión:
A woman, at last

The Club de la Unión, one of Chile’s most traditional institutions, has finally accepted its first female member, after 142 years of an exclusive masculine domain. This revolutionary new member is none other than Cecilia García-Huidobro, the founder.

The many positions Cecilia García-Huidobro now holds (Executive Vice-president of Chile’s Cultural Heritage Corporation, and member of the boards of Culture’s National Council and La Moneda Cultural Center among others) are all part of her sincere interest in our country’s tradition, patrimonial buildings, ancient halls… and obviously the beautiful Club de la Unión, right in Santiago’s downtown, a place she has chosen for some of the most important meetings and activities she has had to organice.

That’s why she’s not indifferent to the landmark of becoming the first female member in the Club’s history, a privilege no other woman could have access to in the 142 years the institution has existed. “It’s a big honor. There’s no doubt about this club being the most manorial and traditional in Chile, and its ambiance is just unique”, she explains.

The Club de la Unión was founded in 1864 just like the private clubs that at the time existed in Great Britain: a meeting spot for gentlemen used to social and political meetings. Its first manager and director was Manuel Jose Irrarazabal Larrain, who two decades later would become the Conservative party’s highes leader, and would then go on to sustain an important political career which included positions as Home Office Secretary, and then Industry and Public Works secretary.

The membership to the Club was restricted since the beginning exclusively to men. Those interested in becoming members had to apply and go through the examination of the previous members. The club was perfect to practice hobbies such as pool, poker and boardgames.

The club’s first building was a house located at the corner of Estado and Huerfanos, from which it later moved to Bandera and Huerfanos. The current building started being built in 1917 by architect Alberto Cruz Montt, according to a neo-classical style. It’s located right in the Alameda. With the passing of time, the club became a center for the meetings among aristochratical politicians, always very much connected to the conservative circles.

The club now has a restaurant, a bar, meetings halls, game rooms and a pool. “Now I’m waiting for the women’s dressing rooms”, says Cecilia García-Huidobro, the first female member.

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