In 1919, a group of eleven men, each representing a different alma mater, formed the University Club of Santa Barbara as a place to meet, enjoy a good meal, discuss the news of the day, shoot a game of billiards, or play a game of bridge. They originally rented a small house on Micheltorena Street in downtown Santa Barbara, but with a growing membership, quickly found the need for more space. In 1923, the founders got together and purchased for $30,000 what was then called “Calkin’s Castle”– a private estate originally built in 1880 for James W. Calkins at 1332 Santa Barbara Street across from Alameda Park.
Close to 100 years later, the co-ed University Club if Santa Barbara now offers men and women members a premiere downtown clubhouse providing delicious, cutting edge lunches and dinners prepared by head chef Harley Hall (formerly of Arts & Letters Cafe), a wide variety of activities, meeting rooms, local benefits and reciprocal privileges at more than 340 country, yacht, golf and city clubs throughout the world.
Luis Chavez, executive director, has successfully led the University Club on an upward trajectory of member service and growth. With dozens of local business owners, celebrities, non-profit volunteers and community leaders in its ranks, the University Club offers outstanding networking and social connections. Recently, honorary members including Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin, co-creators of Lynda.com; Catherine Remak, local radio morning show personality; and Kathy Ireland, international superstar; joined this social group of judges, lawyers, business leaders, elected officials, young professionals, philanthropists, clergy and more to round out a diverse group of Santa Barbarans at the University Club of Santa Barbara.
On October 18, 2013, the University Club of Santa Barbara is swearing in its newest President and First Lady, John J. Thyne III and Olesya Thyne, who will take the helm for the next two years. John Thyne is probably best known as 1/2 of the dynamic duo behind Goodwin & Thyne Properties, a successful local real estate brokerage offering full service professional representation for a low 1.5% commission, but he is also no stranger to running non-profits. An attorney, real estate broker and active law professor by trade, John Thyne has also served as President of Leadership Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara County Bar Foundation, and the central coast chapter of the California Applicants Attorneys’ Association, and he has earned many awards including Best Realtor(R) of the year by the Santa Barbara Independent, Most Outstanding Professor; “40 Under 40” business executives by the Pacific Coast Business Times; Outstanding Young Lawyer, National Finalist for the JC Penney Golden Rule Award for volunteerism, and he was even a Bachelor of the Year for Coastal Women’s magazine in 2006. Thyne intends to expand membership at the University Club which has only 80 available memberships and incorporate new networking and social experiences for members to keep this historical organization relevant to our community and its membership.