Austin Downtown Founder Lions Club
A Brief History as of July 1, 2013
The Austin Downtown Founder Lions Club was chartered January 18, 1916.
The charter members were a “Who’s Who” of Austin civic leadership. Several other Lions Clubs had already been chartered elsewhere but later, at one time or another, they became dormant, giving rise to our claim to be “the world’s oldest continuously operating Lions Club".
Through the years our club has been known as the Austin Lions Club, the Lions Club of Austin, the Austin Downtown Lions Club, and The Founder Lions Club of Austin. (“Founder Club” is a term of recognition bestowed by Lions International on those clubs that were represented at the formation of the international organization at its first convention in 1917).
We still enjoy our status as the “world’s oldest continuously operating Lions Club". But we like to think that our efforts in community service are simply typical of Lions Clubs the world over. It's a story of stage shows, garage sales, rodeos, rose sales and other fundraising activities. It's a story of answering the needs of the community and of disadvantaged groups and individuals. And it's a story of building and working with other Lions Clubs to promote teamwork in service.
Early service activities were predictably oriented toward the Great War in progress, such as sales of War Bonds, fund raising for the Red Cross, and the adoption of an 8 year old French orphan girl. On one occasion, the Lions placed a pole in front of the State Capitol and invited Austinites to drop their old tires on it for recycling; a newspaper photo taken shortly afterward shows a veritable mountain of tires on the north side of 11th Street and Congress Avenue.
In 1924 the Club began what developed into a close and lasting association with public recreation and community beautification in Austin. The Lions Club negotiated a land lease from the University of Texas System and built the Lions Municipal Golf Course. The Club gradually expanded and improved the course, including construction of the existing clubhouse, and turned it over to the City of Austin in 1936. The Club promoted the formation of a City Recreation Department, and brought to Austin the first director of what is now the City's Parks and Recreation Department.