In 1907, the merchant- industrialist Esteban Durán Amat moved his business of selling assorted items; such as groceries and coffee from Gorgona, in the canal area, to Panama City, exactly at the corner of Central Avenue and East 15th Street . The business was called Casa Durán, and at the street corner of his business, a group of city gentlemen gathered daily for refreshments, but more than anything, to talk among friends.
Among those gentlemen were Rodolfo Bermúdez, Eduardo Chiari, Luis García Fábrega, Mario Galindo, Eduardo Icaza, and Mr.Luis Méndez, listed in alphabetical order
One of those gentlemen, or some of them, came up with the idea to have those meetings in a place that was exclusively of their own, which could provide comfort for all of its members.
In February 27th, 1909 it was published in a newspaper of the time with the title Club Unión: “We invite all founding partners for a general meeting on Sunday the 28th at 3:00 pm to choose the club’s organization and board of directors”.
In May 8th, 1909 the Secretary-Director Eduardo Icaza, invites all of its members at the Club to meet on Tuesdaythe 11th , with the objective of verifying the election of the members of the board of directors, and to set a date for the inauguration of the Club.
Finally, in a published edition of the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá dated May 18th, 1909 reads that “on Sunday night a meeting was held in the Great Hall of the Club Union to elect the new board members and the following list was favored by a majority of votes: Eduardo Icaza, Pablo Arosemena, Antonio B. Agacio, CC Mallet, and M. D. Cardoze”.
The Qualification Board for partners admissions had been chosen as follows: Samuel Maduro Bravo, Ramón Arias F. Jr., Florencio Arosemena Icaza, Arturo Müller, Samuel Lewis, José Misteli, J.N. Pophan, MJ Cucalón, José Monteverde, and Demetrio H. Brid.
The newspaper article ends by saying that the inaugural party of that institution was set for May 23rd.
The first thing that the Board of Directors had proposed to Eduardo Icaza, owner of the house number 20TH located on North Avenue, was to buy the property. For which Dr. Alfonso Preciado who was then the diligent President of the institution at the time, offered him the sum of 100,000 silver pesos, but Mr. Icaza did not accept it.
Then the process began in order to try to acquire a lot in the San Felips neighborhood that fulfilled the conditions that were required.
On 1st street between the Avenue A and Central Avenue next to the ramp where back in the day constituted one of the entrances to Paseo de las Bóvedas; there was a lot “a piece of beach” called by Dr. Preciado. A “batch of low sea”, is the name that appears in the selling contract, which was subsequently signed between the Municipal Council of Panama and Club Union.
Dr. Alfonso Preciado, during his speach as President of Club Union on the night of November 3rd, 1917 inauguration day of the headquarter building for this association, he thanked the council members Pedro Brin, and Fabricio Alba for their great work achieving this project.
Having overcome this stage, it was now necessary to obtain the amount of money necessary to start the construction of a new building.
James C. Wright was chosen as architect to undertake the project. He drafted the blueprints, and in some aspects of the facade was inspired by photographs of a club in London brought by Mr. Joshua Piza.
The budget initially presented by architect Wright was for 125,000 silver pesos for the construction of the building. In addition to 10,000 silver pesos for the jobs that had to be done on 1st street, and on the ramp of las Bóvedas.
Club Union only had 10,000 silver pesos from a loan plus another 9,000 silver pesos from funds that the treasury had saved.
It was then that President Preciado decided to ask for help to Mr. Jose Gabriel Duque, to see if through the lottery that this gentleman handled, it was possible to get the rest.
Mr. Duque, in a gesture that it is still appreciated, donated what would an ordinary lottery drawing could produce. The lottery tickets that would play on thar occasion were sold by the 3 Vallarino sisters: Hilda Maria de Monteverde, Maria Teresa, and Carlota. They were joined by Maria Ester Arango, Beatriz de la Guardia, Berta Quelquejeu, and Mercedes Zubieta.
The new headquarters of the Club Union had a long and productive life of 52 years. With its ample, and excellent location, halls, suitable terraces, and other amenities provided for its plural number of partners which surpassed 800. This provided great opportunities for gatherings, and alternate in different activities that immediately began to organize.
In addition, elegant events and banquets, crowded and lively dances, spacious game halls, social gatherings and festivities, comfortable bars, plus a magnificent swimming pool that was added some time later, all this contributed to the happiness, and enjoyment of partners and visitors.
Members of several European Royal Houses, Presidents of other countries,mainly Ibero-American, high-ranking officials, performance artists, diplomats and intellectuals were hosted and honored on its premises.
Everything began with the Board of Directors of 1966, presided by Aquilino de la Guardia. It was constituted by José A. de la Ossa, Camilo Fábrega, Alberto García de Paredes, Gabriel de Obarrio, and Eric Henríquez.
The commission that presided the architectural competition to choose the blueprints of the new Club Union, was constituted by architects Edwin Fábrega, Julio Jiménez, and Jorge M. Arias, including engineers Juan Antonio Stagg, and Don Ralph Lindo.
On November 3rd, 1967, that is to say, exactly 50 years after the inauguration of the old and endearing building on 1st street, the first stone was laid on the foundation of what would be the new, elegant, and comfortable new Club Union.
Its construction was finished 2 years later, and the Club Union of Paitilla was inaugurated on the 14th of August of 1969.
In regards to the former club headquarters, which was the building on 1st street, the President of the Republic at the time, and former president of the Board of Directors, Marcos A. Robles showed interest in acquiring and building the Institute of Art, but the idea did not prosper.
The Club has been a permanent witness of many meetings held in benefit of certain not- so- fortunate layers of our society, and this is an interesting challenge that will continue to face with security. The Club Union still has the opportunity to remain one of the main regents of our becoming.
The name is somewhat improper, because the history of Club Union does not end on the date when the new headquarter of Punta Paitilla was built. It is worth proving the aforementioned, due to the events on November 5th, 1997 when it was commemorated a day of great significance. During the same month of 1917, the first headquarters had been inaugurated, which for 80 years provided to partners and their families a second home. The halls, and terraces of Paitilla, which turned 28 years, hosted hundreds of partners who attended the scheduled events.
That the Union, which is its name, its emblem, and its reason to be allows this Club to continue playing its protagonic role.