Rotary Founder Paul Harris and wife Jean’s home in Chicago is called Comely Bank. “Here they had lived till Paul died in 1945, and where Rotary was born and many of its early Board meetings took place. Having been built in the early 20th century, it was getting dilapidated, and was going to be demolished by the local corporation. That’s when, some 15 years ago, a few dedicated Rotarians decided to repair and refurbish it and have it last as a memorial of our founder and as a Rotary heritage site,” disclosed PRIP Kalyan Banerjee at the Indore Institute.
A special Trust called The Paul Harris Home Foundation was created to save and refurbish that house and it is now headed by PDG Robert Kneupfer, who had served the district and was a member of Rotary One, RC Chicago.
The Trust was today looking at Rotarians and Rotary clubs across the world “to chip in and help raise over $10 million required to repair and refurbish Comely Bank, with enough left to pay the city taxes and maintenance expenses in the future.” Contributions have started to come in, with Japan promising to put in over $1 million.” The RI Board supports this decision and President Mark Maloney had taken the Board members to visit the Harris home in Chicago. But RI can’t spend any money on its renovation as the members’ dues were required for administration. “So, we need to give separately; it does not matter how much you give, but whatever you do, will help. There are naming opportunities for different rooms and areas of the building and donations are welcome from individuals, clubs and districts,” Banerjee added.
Donations can also be made directly to the P H Home Foundation (at www.paulharrishome.org) or given to Paul Harris Home Donor Advised Fund at TRF. Appealing for their generous contributions Banerjee said, “if we want to help preserve a monument that will forever preserve the memories of our founder Paul, and stand forever as a Rotary relic for future generations of Rotarians, please step forward and do whatever you can.”
For further details, Rotarians could contact PRID C Basker, past president from RC Bangalore Orchards D Ravishankar or Banerjee himself, he added.
Picture by Rasheeda Bhagat