Remembering the legacy Commerce Club

By Maria Saporta

It has been more than five years since the Commerce Club moved from its original location near Five Points to the 191 Peachtree building.

The prestigious Commerce Club is now more than 55 years old, and its Atlanta history runs deep.

That was obvious on Saturday, Feb. 6 when there was a Commerce Club Management Team Reunion at the Peachtree Golf Club – hosted by that club’s general manager – Mead Grady. Grady once served as general manager of the legacy Commerce Club.

Commerce Club management team

Reunion of legacy Commerce Club Management Team (Photo: Special)

Other former general managers also came, including Bill Kessler and Caroline Hubbard, who works at the new club at the 191 building.

Other folks who came to the luncheon had been longtime employees of the Commerce Club included Thomas Potts, David Sheppard, Joanne Zahm and Herman Willoughby.

The common theme was at the reunion was how the Commerce Club was a meeting ground for Atlanta’s leaders while creating a family for the people who worked there as well as the members.

Much of the lunch was people recounting stories of their colleagues – some who had passed away and others who had fallen out of touch.

There was the story of the bomb scare in the building, and Marcella the bar tender saying she needed to the lock the bar before leaving the building.

There were lots of questions that began with: “Whatever happened to….?”

three club managers

Three Commerce Club general managers – Caroline Hubbard, Bill Kessler and Mead Grady (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Grady thoughtfully brought cards for everyone to sign for several folks who were not able to come. Then, inevitably, the questions turned to what had made the move from the legacy club to the new club. Yes, the Commerce Club ice cream is still available. And the Commerce Club banana pudding just won top honors among business clubs across the nation.

And several of the key momentos were still on display at the new club.

But Potts, who grew up in Vine City, credited the Commerce Club for giving him a sense of place and honor in the community. Because he did not feel any new location could replace the spirit that existed in the original location, Potts decided to retire rather than make the move up the street.

For him, the real Commerce Club closed at the end of 2010, and that’s when a chapter in Atlanta’s history ended.

Potts, Grady Sheppard

Thomas Potts, Mead Grady and David Sheppard visit on another occasion (Photo: Special)

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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