It all began on March 13, 1899 when 19 prominent people met in the home of J.R. Penn to form a golf club in Oil City. On March 23, 1899, the Constitution and By-Laws were adopted. Dr. D.P. Fredricks was elected President, J.B. Crawford, Vice-Predident, B.F. Brundren, Secretary, and A.P Ritchey, Treasurer.
The club was named The Oil City Golf Club. The Initiation Fee was set at $5.00 for active members with yearly dues of $3.00 for additional members. The purpose of the club was spelled out as "Playing and Promotion of the Game of Golf." The club insignia was a derrick.
One hundred and twenty-five active members were elected on April 29, 1899. On June 6, 1899, grounds situated in the West End Borough were secured for a rental term of five (5) years. The construction of an inexpensive clubhouse began.
M. McInerney became President of the club in 1900; G.C. Drillaker was elected President the following year.
In 1901, the club made its first move toward clubhouse improvements; the plans called for an enlargement of the existing building, and the addition of a kitchen. On April 16, 1903 the Oil City Golf Club became a corporation; G.C. Drillaker was President of the club, S.Y. Ramage, Vice-President, C.P. Harry, Treasurer, and G.W. Moore, Secretary.
On March 9, 1905, S. Y. Ramage was elected President. It was during this year that Tuesdays and Fridays were designated as "Ladies' Days."
S. W. McCann was elected President for 1906 and 1907. The Oil City Golf Club concluded on May 6, 1907.
On September 16, 1912, after a five (5) year lapse, S.Y. Ramage called a meeting "to plan ways and means for the organization of a country club between the cities of Oil City and Franklin." At said meeting, Col. S.C. Lewis was elected chairman, and Raymond Cross was named secretary. Capital of the club was fixed at $30,000.00 being divided into six hundred (600) shares at $50.00 per share. Basis for a full and active membership was ownership of one full share of stock.
The following month several meetings took place. During these meetings S.Y. Ramage was named President, the name Wanango Country Club was adopted (other names considered were Midway Country Club and Union Country Club), a Constitution and By-Laws were drawn up, and plans were drafted for the new clubhouse. Mr. Ramage, along with the Building and Grounds Committees, set up meetings with both Donald Ross and Tom Bendelow to discuss the layout of a nine-hole golf course, and the location of a clubhouse and tennis courts.
On the evening on April 7, 1913, more than 100 subscribers for stock in the new Wanango Country Club came together to decide on a plan for the new clubhouse. Plan No. 4, a Dutch-Colonial design, drawn by Architect Samuel Brady of Franklin, was chosen with a few minor modifications. Other business accomplished was the adoption of a Constitution and By-Laws, and the election of a Board of Governors. Elected were D.E. Byles, C.H. Lay, S.Y. Ramage, J.T. Hadley, Frank O'Day, C.C. Steinbrenner, Col. S.C. Lewis, C.J. Carow, and Jacob J. Sheasley. The board had to prepare an application for the charter before the organization could be incorporated.
The club received its charter on May 26, 1913, from Judge George Crisswell of Venango County.
On August 14, 1913, a contract to build the new clubhouse was awarded to L.O. Bouquin, with ground breaking taking place on August 21, 1913. Later that year Mr. Billy Rossiter was named Club Steward. On April 15, 1914, Jack Kennedy took over the duties as the first Golf Professional and Greenskeeper.
On the afternoon of Saturday, June 6, 1914, the members of Wanango Country Club formally opened their new home in Reno. Delicious refreshments were served; entertainment was provided by Mrs. Barbara Dennis, and her sister, Mrs. Milton Reynolds. An evening of dancing followed with music provided by the Lantz Orchestra.
The exterior of the clubhouse was described as being "of hollow tile, faced with cement and stucco work. Its gabled roof is covered with green stained shingles, while the woodwork of the structure is brown. At either end a gigantic chimney built entirely of local stone leads from a mammoth open fireplace within. Colonial porches on three sides, 14 feet wide, surround the building."
The ballroom, then known as the "lounging room," was said to be "the most attractive of the rooms...it's ceiling is of open-timber construction, while at the east end is the immense open fireplace, one of the most handsome pieces of masonry to be found in Venango County. From the hardwood floor, a 9-foot wainscoting in chestnut finished in fumed oak is interspersed with seven-foot French windows, opening directly upon the broad porches which surround three sides of the room. In the attractive angles of the high ceiling are inset dormer windows." It was "simply furnished in French willow, its color design of blue and black harmonizing with beautiful results."
The main floor of the clubhouse also contained the main dining room, which opens directly into the lounging room, a tea room, which was "finished in Chinese grass furniture, with hangings of black background with Chinese fixtures," the ladies'dressing room, which was "finished in grey and old rose," and the private dining room, which was "finished in grey willow with mulberry cushions."
The basement of the clubhouse had two bowling alleys, the men's locker room, baths, and the exquisite men's dining room. The men's dining room was located "immediately to the right of the entrance from the course and is designed to meet the requirements of those men who wish to leave the green only long enough to partake of refreshments and food. The room is Colonial design with an immense fireplace, long low windows and window chairs, roomy,restful, and inviting." Jack Kennedy, the golf professional, had a room where he cleaned and repaired clubs.
The second floor of the clubhouse had six (6) sleeping rooms "for the use of club members and their friends."
At a meeting held on December 11, 1916, the decision was made to add nine (9) additional holes. In June, 1917, A.W. Tillinghast was invited to Wanango Country Club "to reconstruct the course extending it to 18 holes." When he arrived he was met by Mr. Ramage, who explained to him that the golfers at Wanango were "troubled by the rod-lines." Mr. Tillinghast just nodded not sure if a rod-line was a "disease or maybe some wild animal which swooped down from the mountains to carry off plump little caddies."
Once out on the course the two men encountered the terrible "rod-lines," the lines which connected the oil pumps to the central power house. He observed that about twenty (20) rod-lines were "spread across the fairways like clotheslines supported by poles." He also took note that each rod-line had a unique "call to its mate in captivity...one middle-aged rod-line uses this Squee-Whank, Squee-Whank...farther up on the hillside...Oooo-Ah, Oooo-Ah!"
He left Wanango with a new appreciation for the "Wanangoites." Because of the rod-lines he described the course as "unique." He was excited to start working on a "very satisfactory 18 hole course" and said that "aside from any merit which the new course may possess, scenically it is marvelously blessed, and really I think it presents some really good golf."
On May 27, 1919, the grounds committee was authorized to proceed with the renovation of the original nine (9) holes, the addition of nine (9) more holes based on A. W. Tillinghast's design, and an expansion to the clubhouse.
The redesigned course opened in 1920.
In 1924, Jack Kennedy resigned as the Golf Professional. He was replaced by David Taft.
In 1925, plans were approved which called for a 60 feet by 28 feet, two story "L-Shaped expansion" of the clubhouse. W. Holmes Crosby drafted the design and presented it to the members. After some minor changes the drawings were approved. Included in the expansion were a larger dining room, a new kitchen, an additional private dining room, a dumbwaiter (the kitchen was downstairs), a serving room, a new locker room for the boys, a larger locker room for the women, and a new lounge.
In 1926, Samuel Messer was elected President, and J. French Miller and J.J. Sheasley were elected Vice Presidents. Eddie Melvin took over the duties of Golf Professional. The idea of a swimming pool for the club was brought up at a stockholders' meeting on November 21, 1927. A committee was formed to "look into the matter."
In 1930, S.Y. Rammage was again elected President of Wanango Country Club. In 1934, a rustic bridge was erected from the tee block on hole ten (10) to the green. By the 1960s the bridge had been abandoned and a road was paved.
On June 5, 1940, A. E. McIntosh was elected President to fill the vacancy caused by Mr. Ramage's death. James A. Snyder served as President from 1944 through 1947. These years were tough on Wanango Country Club with food rationing, gas rationing and the difficult task of getting help. At one time, the back nine was let go to hay because of the lack of labor, machinery, and gasoline. There were many resignations; young people were leaving to enter the armed services. Those left behind prevailed and kept the Club afloat. Jim Snyder is named as the leader who kept the Club alive during those difficult years.
In 1948, Lee R. Forker was elected President and George Loeffler was hired to be the new greenskeeper.
Mr. Melvin retired in 1949, and John Loeffler became the new Golf Professional. Lester H. Keim served as President in 1949 and 1950, followed by A.W. Clinger in 1951 and 1952.
On July 22, 1952, the "first concrete steps toward the construction of the swimming pool were taken. J.D. Berry, Jr. was named chairman of a committee to investigate costs and requirements of a pool."
James D. Berry, Jr. became President in 1953; he served until 1955. During his tenure, major changes were in the works. Costs for improvements to refurbish the clubhouse had been explored, as well as plans to install a swimming pool. In September, 1955, a committee was appointed to "work out a plan for the renovation project." The committee was allotted $150,000.00. The plans, drafted by W.G. Eckles, were approved on April 11, 1956, and bids were accepted on May 3, 1956.
Merle M. Mitcham was elected President in 1956 and 1957. On May 5, 1957, Wanango Country Club, its directors, their wives, and committee members, welcomed its members and their guests to observe the newly renovated clubhouse which was "transformed into an ultra modern building with facilities to serve the needs of the present membership and to adequately meet future demands."
After knocking down a few walls and removing partitions, the main dining room had been "tastefully decorated with wall-to-wall, brown tweed carpeting with gold highlights. Walnut tables, which can seat two or four persons, or easily be put together for larger groups, are all new and there are matching chairs with upholstered seats The sand colored walls are offset with draw drapes carrying out the same theme with tones of brown and gold." The dining room also got new picture windows to provide better views of the golf course, and doors opening to the new patio, which was equipped with white metal tables and chairs.
Also added were a private dining room at the back of the dining room with picture windows, an informal dining room extending the full-length of the ballroom, and a folding curtain on a circular track to provide an enclosure for private dinner parties in the ballroom.
A new kitchen was constructed with stainless steel appliances. An acoustic ceiling was installed in order to utilize all available space.
A new, up-to-date, sprinkler system and air conditioning were also installed on the main floor of the club house.
At the entrance of the club a new porte-cochere was built. Inside the door, just off to the right, was a new coat room; to the left, an office, which held the newly installed Hi-Fi recording system. The lounge a the left of the ballroom was "redecorated in tones of soft grey, offering a ring-side view of the new swimming pool."
The ladies' lounge had also been redecorated; the "wallpaper is a background of slate grey with white silhouettes accented with touches of rose and aqua. There are three corner dressing tables with large mirrors. The small benches are white wrought iron with plush rose velvet cushions. The couch is matching grey with rose and aqua accents and the curtains are sheer nylon with gold threads. Coffee tables and end tables are white wrought iron and glass."
The men's locker room was repainted and carpeted in grey tones. The ladies' locker room was remodeled and "painted in shades of soft pink, green and yellow with matching furnishings."
The Pro-Shop was moved into the clubhouse where the storage room once stood. It opened out onto the new covered, tile patio at the edge of the 18th green.
Later that summer, Wanango Country Club marked another chapter in its long history when it opened the swimming pool. The steel pool measured seventy-five (75) feet by thirty-five (35) feet and graduated from three (3) feet to ten (10) feet in the deep end, which had a diving board. A sixteen (16) foot wading pool for the younger children was placed beside the swimming pool.
Also within the beautiful "garden-like" pool area enclosure was a bath house which measured forty (40) feet by eighteen (18) feet, which was fully equipped with showers, lavatories, and bath house facilities. The basement of the bath house held the filtering and electrical systems; the roof doubled as a sun deck.
Samuel A. Breene served as President in 1958 and 1959. John P. Pearson was President from 1960 to 1963.
John B. Maitland was President in 1964.
Thomas Regan was Present in 1965.
James Prenatt served as President from 1966 to
In 1969, another major remodeling and redecorating project was completed. The project included a fifteen (15) foot by one-hundred and twenty (120) foot addition to the ground level, a roof-top patio, and new heating and plumbing systems, as well as a few changes to the main floor. M.C. Strickland and Sons was chosen to complete the work which was drafted by W.G. Eckles Co.
John Loeffler had a new Pro-Shop, which he had fully stocked to "delight the heart of any golfer." New windows were installed in the Pro-Shop giving members a panoramic view of the golf course. The room was decorated in gold and black carpeting. The bag storage room was located off the Pro-Shop as well as a place for golfers to put their shoes to be cleaned by the staff.
The new locker rooms for the men, and redecorated locker rooms for the women, were a huge hit, especially with the addition of the air conditioning system.
The Stag Bar was expanded and new picture windows gave the male members the "privilege of viewing the golfers from an advantageous spot."
Across the entire back of the club house, above the new addition, a promenade deck was built. The "dark brown laminated beams enhanced with white stucco" completed the clubhouse on the golf course side. The front entrance got a new cathedral type arch with grey slate steps.
The lounge area was redecorated. The couches and chairs were recovered in "red and white design with tables placed convenient for the members' use. A conversation piece and eye-catcher is the fire bench enclosing the fireplace in the lounge room. The bench is fashioned of solid brass with a leather seat and was handmade in Pittsburgh for Wanango Country Club."
The dining room was separated from the lounge area by new louvered doors. It was redecorated with "wall to wall carpeting in red and grey (with) new Kittlinger tables and chairs in dark walnut."