Historically Jewish Concordia-Argonaut club to merge with another S.F. institution

A year after selling its longtime Van Ness Avenue location, the Concordia-Argonaut Club has found a new home. The 128-year-old historically Jewish club will merge with the Presidio Golf Club early next year and relocate to that similarly venerable San Francisco institution’s facility.

Both clubs’ boards and memberships voted overwhelmingly for the merger, with the Presidio Golf Club vote coming Nov. 7 to seal the deal. The total combined membership will top 315, according to Concordia-Argonaut Club president Patricia Rosenberg, and both will have equal representation on a combined board of trustees.

The Concordia-Argonaut Club name will be preserved, though the precise title for the merged club has yet to be determined.

“They have a wonderful history like we do,” Rosenberg said. “They have a membership similar to ours in age and demographics, and a love of old San Francisco history. Their food and beverage service is excellent, and they have the same interests as we do in terms of desiring an athletic facility.”

The Presidio Golf Club, new home of the Concordia-Argonaut Club photo/wikimedia commons-brokensphere

Founded in 1864 by a group of German American Jews led by Levi Strauss, the Concordia moved into its own building at 1142 Van Ness in 1891. That structure was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, and the present building was completed three years later, complete with library, bar, pool and, later, a basketball court.

The club, which in 1939 merged with the Argonaut, a Jewish men’s club, became a San Francisco mainstay, with athletic facilities, fine dining, lecture series and Jewish holiday celebrations.

Ultimately, shrinking membership propelled the club’s board to sell the three-story 52,000-square-foot building to Academy of Art University last year. To avoid a steep capital gains tax, the club had to spend proceeds of the $19 million sale on real estate, which it will do next year when it renovates the Presidio Golf Club’s Tudor-style clubhouse, built in 1897.

Located on the southern edge of the Presidio, the Presidio Golf Club offers members golfing facilities, a pub and game room and a banquet hall. Just off Arguello Boulevard, it is only a few blocks from Congregation Emanu-El.

Presidio Golf Club president Scott Thomason said the merger will allow the club to have more social activities than ever before, and he welcomes the infusion of Jewish culture, which he called “an added plus.”

“We had both clubs get together [at a summer open house] and it really worked out great,” Thomason said. “Patricia and her team, along with our team, put a lot of time into this and it’s a real positive for us.”

After plans are approved, the Concordia-Argonaut Club will construct a state-of-the-art athletic facility and locker rooms in the basement of the clubhouse, an S.F.-designated historical landmark. Also, Concordia-Argonaut members will get preferred tee times at the Presidio Golf Course, a well-regarded 18-hole public course.

 Rosenberg also hopes to continue having the Concordia-Argonaut Club’s traditional Sunday dinners, Passover seder and Yom Kippur break-the-fast.

“The cultures are very similar,” she said. “Both are venerable clubs with members who come from the business community in San Francisco, and who have a deep appreciation for art, culture and current events. Everyone I’ve met is extremely kind and very personable.”

For now, the clubs’ legal teams are finalizing the merger. On Jan. 12, following the golf club’s seasonal closure, Concordia-Argonaut Club members will have access to the facility.

“It’s an exciting time for both our clubs,” Rosenberg said. “The combined membership will ensure the longevity of both clubs.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.