The Champlain Club was formally established as GOETHE LODGE 592 D.O.H. in 1891 as the Vermont Chapter of Der Deutsche Orden der Harugari (D.O.H.), or the German Order of Harugari, a national German-American mutual benefit and cultural association founded in New York City in 1847. Early meetings took place in members’ homes until the building at 20 Crowley Street was built in 1896. Located in the heart of what was the German immigrant community in Burlington, The Goethe Lodge was part of a national organization that included 30,000 members in 300 lodges in 27 states. It was one of the first secret societies to admit women, starting in 1890, and it’s no longer secret (just shy of being really famous).
The Germanic nature of the club and neighborhood changed in the post-war years and the development of television did much to lessen the draw of neighborhood social clubs. The Goethe Lodge continued and adjusted to the changing cultural landscape and neighborhood, eventually removing a German-descent requirement for membership and changing its name to The Champlain Club. In the 1960s, the local membership hovered around 60-70 people. The club’s bar and lounge areas were open to members several days a week and regularly hosted dinners and other social gatherings. Research indicates that The Champlain Club is likely one of two remaining former-D.O.H. lodges still primarily functioning as a social club for members, the other one being the Harugari Singing Society & German/American Club in West Haven, Connecticut.