01/08/2013 08:20 pm ET Updated Jan 08, 2013

Commonwealth Club Moving To New Location After 110 Years (PHOTOS)


Calling the Commonwealth Club of California an institution would be like calling the Great Wall of China a picket fence.

The club, the nation's largest and oldest public affairs forum and a HuffPost SF partner, is where FDR delivered his New Deal speech. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there, as did Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Alec Baldwin and thousands of noted activists, researchers, authors, chefs, artists and innovators.

And after 110 years, the club will finally have its own permanent home.

"It's as though we've been temporary for more than 100 years," said club president and CEO Gloria Duffy to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Over the century, the club has occupied a suite at the St. Francis Hotel, an office in the Monadnock Building and, for the past few decades, the second-floor of a building on Market Street.

"Our recording studio is now a closet with foam baffling glued to the walls," Duffy told the Chronicle.

But soon, the club will own a small two-story building at 110 Embarcadero just down the street.

"Last June, when the commercial real estate market was at its nadir, the club's leadership seized the opportunity," wrote Duffy in a release about the move. "There is probably no single location in he Bay Area more easily accessible than the club's new site."

The club has reportedly entertained the idea of a permanent home for decades, but an expiring lease and a 75 percent rent increase provided the fire under the club's proverbial backside.

According to Curbed, the new space will be designed by local firm Gensler, and will focus primarily on a 300-seat auditorium and a new recording studio.

"It's a wonderful location for the club," wrote Duffy in a letter to supporters. "For its second century and beyond."

There is, however, the issue of money. Duffy estimated the total cost of the building, move and renovation to be a cool $14.5 million. And, though it's over halfway there, the club will reach out for public fundraising for the first time in its history.

No word yet on an estimated opening date, though it seems the organization doesn't have any plans to slow down: just check out some highlights from the list of unbelievable speakers coming to the Commonwealth Club over the next two months in our slideshow below:

The Commonwealth Club