UClub, popular among UMass faculty, to close permanently

  • A car rolls past a rusted town line sign, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Amherst, AP

  • The University Club, now permanently closed, at 243 Stockbridge Road on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The University Club, now permanently closed, at 243 Stockbridge Road on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The University Club, now permanently closed, at 243 Stockbridge Road on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2022 11:03:28 AM

AMHERST — A longtime restaurant operating from Amherst’s oldest building, primarily serving faculty on the University of Massachusetts campus but also open to the public and students, is permanently closed.

The University Club and Restaurant, or the UClub, will not reopen after closing at the onset of the pandemic.

Once known as the Faculty Club, the club, at 243 Stockbridge Road, is being replaced by the Commonwealth Restaurant, situated on the third floor of the new Worcester Commons building on North Pleasant Street.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski explained the decision to keep the UClub closed and replacing it with the Worcester Commons site.

“This facility provides the most effective delivery of a restaurant experience through better food storage and preparation within a modern complex dedicated to serving meals to the campus community,” Blaguszewski said.

Blaguszewski explained that the decision to close the UClub was due to the age and operational limitations of the Colonial-era farmhouses from which it operated.

The Stockbridge-Boltwood House, which dates to 1728 when built by Samuel and Hannah Boltwood, and the attached Homestead building, moved to the site in 1973, will continue to be maintained by the university as it explores future uses, Blaguszewski said. The university understands the historical importance of the buildings, he said.

The website for the University Club remains active, showing the various rooms, including:

■The Daniel Chester French Room, named after the sculptor of the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., who lived in the Stockbridge House as a boy.

■The Chancellor’s Room, featuring portraits of all the UMass chancellors.

■The Baker Lounge, named for Hugh Potter Baker, the president of Massachusetts State College from 1933 to 1947 ,when the campus became UMass.

■The Tory Room, dedicated to the nine Royalists who were confined to that room by the Amherst Committee of Safety during the American Revolution.

Joseph Larson, professor emeritus of environmental conservation at UMass, served as a board member for the University Club.

“I can say the club, as a private corporation, is in the process of closing operations, but that some of us are going to try to get the two buildings, which are already on the state’s list of historic structures, placed on the national list of historic places as a move to give them more protection,” Larson said. Possible future uses envisioned could restore the site to be more compatible with its historical nature, he said.

The relinquishing of the all-alcohol license for the property was discussed at a recent Amherst Board of License Commissioners meeting, with Licensing Coordinator Steven McCarthy noting that the UMass Faculty Club Inc. didn’t seek a renewal of the $3,500 annual license.

Blaguszewski said the University Club, formed as a private institution, didn’t fall under the university’s liquor license.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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