The Dallas Knife & Fork club was founded in the spring of 1924 as an exclusive men’s residence and social club and meetings were held at the newly built Dallas Athletic Club on St. Paul Street between Elm & Pacific downtown. Industrial, civic, professional and business leaders met there regularly to socialize, dine and learn from local outstanding speakers.
Shortly after its founding, the Club elected to join the National Organization of Dinner Clubs (NODC) gaining access to the NODC’s own speakers bureau, at which time local speakers were no longer booked. The high quality of nationally known speakers representing all walks of life garnered the Club much local publicity. Club membership was eventually opened to women in the early 30’s. The Club continued to grow but discontinued meeting during the Great Depression and World War II years.
Following WWII, the Club resumed meetings at the Dallas Athletic Club where it soon outgrew the facilities. For a few years it met at various hotels and the Dallas Athletic Country Club, eventually moving to the new Dallas Country Club in the late 1950’s. In 1974 the first woman was elected to the board and in 1988 the first woman president was elected.
The Club resigned from the NODC organization in the early 1970’s at which time members Marvin and Vandelia Hinchliffe volunteered to take on management of the Club along with an elected president and board of directors. An executive secretary position was added in 1984 as the Club’s first paid employee.
Today, a Board of Directors establishes policies, monitors operations and approves the final program events for each year. In addition, appointed chairpersons assist with specific functions helping to maintain successful operations. The Club currently has a maximum limit of 350 memberships.
The Dallas Knife & Fork Club currently hosts five black tie dinner events per year, each with a featured guest speaker/entertainer. Events are held in November, January, February, March and April. Speakers and entertainers are selected by the board based on preferences expressed by Club members and are sourced through direct board member contacts and national speaker bureaus.
The Club’s history, membership lists, and assorted documentation are archived at the Dallas Public Library.