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Founded in 1869, the Thames Club did not have a permanent home until 1888, when members purchased a private residence at the corner of State and Washington Streets. The house was destroyed by fire in 1904 and the present Thames Club building was erected on the site. James O’Neill was well-liked in New London and he was among the first Irishmen invited to join the all-male bastion of the city’s leading citizens. According to the club’s bartender, James O’Neill was generous in buying drinks for other members. Bourbon and milk was his preferred beverage. He was a decorous drinker at the Thames Club, keeping himself to two or three drinks; saving his boisterous drinking for hotel barrooms and taverns. The actor was remembered for his friendliness, courtly manner, and his toast to "Sunny days and starry nights" (Gelbs, LWMC, 210). In Long Day’s Journey into Night, feeling isolated and disconnected from New London society, Mary Tyrone dismisses club members as: "Big frogs in a small puddle" (Collected Plays, 1148). The Thames Club may have been more affectionately remembered in the Sachem Club’s Fourth of July picnic in Ah, Wilderness!

Thames Club, c. 1915

The Thames Club is the oldest social club in Connecticut and its membership now includes women.


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