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The idea of a Rotary Club in Santa Monica originated with four businessmen in the fall of 1920. Ernest English took the lead in organizing since he had been a Rotarian and had some knowledge of forming a club. On January 11, 1921, Rotary International referred the proposal to the governor of then District 23, comprising the states of California, Nevada and Arizona and the territory of Hawaii. He in turn referred the matter to the presidents of the Los Angeles and Long Beach clubs for investigation.

During 1921 a survey of the city was made to determine that the required number of membership classifications existed. In January 1922 an organizational meeting was held and officers elected. On February 1, 1922 our club was officially chartered as Rotary Club number 1086.

The fifteen charter members  were: Jack H.­ Kirkpatrick, President: Joe C. Gilbert,  Vice President: Ernest L. English, Secretary: Ted  Fach, Treasurer; Russell K. Hart, Neil Nettleship, & Theodore D. Plumer, Directors: and members Oscar A.Anderson, Sam  V. Carlisle, Len J. Murray, Dick Neelands, Roland Speers, W.H.L. Symington, J. Walter Todd, and Harry B. Wilson. Within a few    weeks Kirkpatrick resigned as president due to his relocation to Ukiah, and Joe C. Gilbert succeeded him.

Since its inception our club has met at several locations, including the original Santa Monica Athletic Club at 1441 Ocean Front, the Uplifters Ranch in Santa Monica Canyon, the Brentwood Country Club and the Miramar Hotel. In 1977, during the presidency of Ed Rafeedie, the club began meeting at the Riviera Country club in Pacific Palisades.

Our club has sponsored three other clubs in our district: the Westwood Village Club in 1929 and the L.A. Westside Sunrise Club in 1988 and LA Cedars in 2007.  In 1955 John English, son of founder Ernest L. English and our President in 1947-48, was elected governor of our district. He also served a partial term as governor in 1958 following the death of the incumbent. In 1988 Archie Morrison, our President in 1982-83, became our club's second district governor. Our district, originally designated as number 23, has also been designated numbers 2 and 528, prior to the current 5280.

In 1967 we established two scholarships at Santa Monica High School in honor of past president Russell Hart and one at St. Monica's in honor of past president Tom Fox. In 1982 we established a scholarship at Santa Monica College in honor of past vice-president Nick Holt and a scholarship at Olympic High School in honor of John English. In 1983 under President Dick Rice we established two vocational scholarships at Santa Monica College, which are funded by our host/hostess parties and named in honor of Archie Morrison.

On the occasion of our 50th anniversary, during the presidency of J. Scott King, we established the Santa Monica Rotary Foundation with an initial value of $50,000 to provide capital funds for worthwhile charitable projects in our community. A highlight of our 60th anniversary in 1982 was the adoption of our new club logo, designed by Spyros Dellaportas. Four years later, following changes in the bylaws of Rotary International, our club inducted Esther Johnson as the first woman member of Rotary. The following year in Munich, Germany, Esther became the first woman delegate to a Rotary International convention.

For our 75th anniversary celebration in 1997, club members pledged over $75,000 for the Santa Monica Rotary Foundation. At the present time the Foundation has in excess of $550,000 in assets, and has donated over $300,000 to local charities and organizations.