The old Manila Army and Navy Club was originally designed as rest and recreation area for the exclusive use of the US military personnel and civilians, and later Filipinos. It was the site of many important events in Philippine-American relations.
The Club’s first president was Col. Smith of California. Notable persons who became its presidents were Admiral George Dewey, Gen. Arthur MacArthur, Jr. and his son Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and Army Chief of Staff and later Governor General of the Philippines Leonard Wood.
Originally, the club was housed in a building located in Intramuros. On April 12, 1911, it transferred to the present site near the then Luneta Park and along the shores of Manila Bay reserved by urban planner, Daniel Burnham, in his plan of Manila.
The building was designed by none other than Architect William Parsons, the renowned Yale-educated city planner and architect. Known for his generous use of arches and his trademark use of Capiz shells for windows, Parsons is credited for the Philippine General Hospital, the Paco Railroad Station, the Philippine Normal School, and more.
In its completion, the grand Army and Navy Club was described to be “a dignified white structure, nearly hidden by beautiful palms and acacia trees, and guarded by a well-carved wrought iron fence.”