OUR HISTORY

 

 

 

Several Oasis Shriners organized the Red Fez Club in 1915 and incorporated it on the 14th day of April 1917.

Noble John Dabbs, Past Potentate of the Oasis Temple,  became its first President. When the Club was formed

the United States was in the midst of World War 1 (1914-1918) and times were hard. In those early years, the

Club not only had to deal with the repercussions of the war, but it had to deal with the Federal Liquor and

Beer Prohibition (1920-1933),  the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the Great Depression that followed

 

All Red Fez Club, Inc. members were Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, but were not affiliated with any particular

Shrine Temple. The reason being that the members did not want to operate  under the very strict current rules

and regulations as set forth by the Imperial Council. In essence, the Red Fez Club was a club for Shriners,

but not a Shrine Club. The object and purpose, for which the  Club was founded, was to form a social club for

Shriners and that, among other reasons, would “advance and promote the literary tastes,

activities and opportunities of its members.

 

In the fall of 1917, the Club moved to 122 South Tryon Street next to the Imperial Theatre. It occupied the second,

third, and fourth floors over Conner Sherrills Bank, which later became the Bank of Charlotte.  The lobby, a reading

room, a billiard and game room, and a barber shop were on the 3rd floor. From the balcony on that floor,  many

parades were viewed and cheered by members of the Club.¯ The third floor contained assembly and storage

rooms for the Oasis Shrine Band and the Oasis Patrol. It was used for band rehearsals,  patrol meetings and

for general utility such as meetings of ceremonial committees. The grand ball room was on the fourth floor

and once each month a dance was given for the members and visiting Shriners.¯ The ballroom was also

used each Friday night during the winter months for Patrol practice drills.

 
 
 

In those early years, the Red Fez Club was financially stable and, for all practical purposes, “the Club was the only

 semblance of a Shrine headquarters for Oasis Temple in its own home town.  On days of ceremonials, Imperial

visitations and on all occasions of Shrinerdom in Charlotte, the Red Fez Club was headquarters In early 1929,

the Oasis Mosque Association purchased a three-story house at 321 South Tryon Street with the intent of

building a Magnificent Mosque¯ on the site. Unfortunately, construction plans were  curtailed because of the

stock market crash. Between the officers of the Temple and the officers of the Red Fez Club, it was mutually

 agreed that the Red Fez Club would occupy the property, keep it in good repair, attend to general maintenance,

furnish heat, light, water, etc. Also to provide, the meeting places for the various units, housing of equipment,

and to serveas headquarters on days of ceremonials, visitations of  Shrine Dignitaries, football games and so on.

With the agreement in place, the Red Fez Club moved into the building in May of 1929.

 

In the spring of 1928, another group of Shriners calling themselves the Oasis Yacht Club was organized.

Ernest J. Sifford was elected Commodore. Each member of the Yacht Club, in order to get started,  purchased

 $100.00 worth of stock. There were approximately 120 members. It was noted that the rosters of

both the Red Fez Club and the Yacht Club were almost identical

 

Shortly after formation, the Yacht Club applied for a lease from the Wateree Power Company for a portion of

land on the Catawba River originally owned by W.M. Boyd. A lease was granted for a tract of land consisting of

21.3 acres in October of 1928. On the 28th day of November of 1928, the group formed the Oasis Yacht Club, Inc.

Their objective was to establish and maintain a suitable clubhouse and grounds and maintain a suitable water

front for outdoor and indoor sports of all kinds, including swimming, boating, fishing, golfing, and generally,

for the promotion of social recreation and good fellowship among its members.¯ The Yacht Club called

pon Architect and Past Potentate L.D. Sutherland to design a suitable clubhouse to be erected on the property.

 
 

 

As the great depression wore on, both the Yacht Club and the Red Fez Club began to feel the strain and suffer along

with the rest of the world. The crisis came in 1932 when both clubs were well nigh over the brink toward bankruptcy. The

 remaining faithful decided to have a joint membership meeting. The result of this joint meeting was the consolidation

of the two clubs to be called the Red Fez Club, Inc. The merger was so successful that by the end of May in 1933, the

Red Fez Club had purchased the 21.3 acres of land that the clubhouse sat upon and had paid off all of its debts.

After the merger,  the Red Fez Club referred to its new river property as the Red Fez Country Club and

its uptown Charlotte property as the Red Fez City Club.

 

One membership fee entitled a Shriner to the privileges of both the Red Fez City and Country Club.

The Country Club was described as a complete recreational program for Nobles and their families.

The City Club was advertised as an uptown home for the local member where he may relax and fraternize.

Also, a Charlotte home for the out-of-town member where he may receive his calls, fill his appointments, park

his car, meet his friends in fact use  it as headquarters when in Charlotte for the next several years, both the

City Club and the Country Club prospered. Except for special events where  women were welcome, the City Club

and the Country Club were vastly different. The City Club continued to be primarily a mens club, where as, the

Country Club was always open for family picnics and other activities. It even scheduled semi-formal dances almost

every Saturday night and square  dances every Wednesday night on January 2, 1941 the Recorder for the Oasis

Temple moved from his ling time office in the Masonic Temple to an office in the  Red Fez City Club. At that point, the

Oasis Temple began using the same address as the Red Fez ClubThe Club seemed to be on the top of the

world until  that infamous Sunday morning December 7, 1941. Within a couple of days, the United States

was at war with both Japan (December and Germany (December 11).

 
 
 

For the next four years, the whole country suffered. Because of gas and certain food rationing, the Country Club virtually shut

down except for a couple of specialty dances a year; however, the City Club remained in full operation. After the War, things

 got back to normal at both the Country Club  and the City Club. Over the next few years, more emphases was placed on

improvements at the Country Club, including the major remodeling of the clubhouse and  the boating facilities. At this time the

Red Fez Club had well over a thousand members. Because of the membership demands, the City Club began to look for larger

 quarters. In December of 1949, after twenty years, the City Club moved from the Oasis Masque Building into their own facilities

at 118-A East Third Street in uptown Charlotte. During the fifties and early sixties, the Club continued to show record growth

and talk turned to developing more of the Country Club property. The Country  Club still owned all of the 21.3 acres of land that it

had purchased, but it was only using four or five acres for the Clubhouse, road, parking lot, boat docks, picnic areas, and

the beach patio. A board member urged something be done about making our Country Club more attractive to our members.

 

As a result, a planning committee  was formed. A contract to build an Olympic size swimming pool was awarded on

September 25, 1961. Unfortunately, the late sixties and early seventies were not very kind to the Red Fez Club. The City Club

suffered the most. A downtown social club for Shriners  was becoming impractical. On May 25, 1971, the Red Fez Club Board

of Directors concluded that participation in the City Clubs activities had dripped to an all  time low, and there appears to be very

few members interested in using the facility. A motion was made to close the City Club. The motion was approved.

With  the closing of the City Club, the Country Club began to be referred to as the Red Fez Club

 

For a variety of reasons, the Red Fez Club continued to struggle, but it had something that the old City Club didn't have.

It could rent the Clubs facilities for all kinds of functions such as weddings and company picnics. In a move to create more

revenue, the Club began to utilize more of the Clubs property. The Club laid out a recreational vehicle campground for Club members.

A set of rules was adopted and leasing terms were published in March of 1972 For several years, many of the Red Fez Club

members wanted to change the Club from a Non-Affiliated Club for Shriners to an Oasis Shrine Club.  Finally, on the 31st day of

August, 1976 the Club was chartered and duly recognized by the Oasis Temple as a Shrine Club. However, the Red Fez Club, Inc.

 didn't go away. The Red Fez Shrine Club became a club within a club. The real estate and all the facilities remained under the

umbrella of the Red Fez Club, Inc.  and every year in October, the Red Fez Club leases the property to the Red Fez Shrine Club.

The unwritten lease agreement was very much the  same as parts of the agreement between the

Oasis Mosque Association and the Red Fez Club in 1929

 
 

The Red Fez Club, Inc. and the Red Fez Shrine Club were barely able to keep its head above water for the next eighteen years.

Then, on October 12, 1994,  the Red Fez Club, Inc. signed a contract with a mobile communication company to place a tower on the property.

Sixteen months later, a different  communication company signed a contract and installed another tower. With the two towers in place with long-term

contracts, it appears  that the Red Fez Club, Inc. and the Red Fez Shrine Club will be stable for many years to come