History & Culture
SLOVAK SYNDICATE COMPANY
THE AMERICAN SLOVAK CLUB
The Depression Years gave birth to the American Slovak Club. In 1935, the government declared a bank holiday, which could have proved disastrous for the five men’s fraternal lodges affiliated with Holy Trinity Church. The “holiday” meant the lodges would not be able to withdraw their money from the Union Savings and Loan Association.
It was in November of that year that Paul Slanina, president of Union Savings, Charles A. Chapla, secretary and Andrew Surovjak, auditor, proposed that the lodges jointly take over commercial property to be used for a club at 508 E. 28th St.
Presidents of National Slovak Society, Br. 180, St. John the Baptist, Br. 228, Holy Trinity, Br. 533, St. Michael’s, Br. 133 and Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Br. 177 agreed later in the year to jointly purchase the property. Branch 533 said that it was not prepared to proceed with the purchase, so Slanina put up $1,000 of his own money to complete the deal until Br. 533 was able to participate. In January, 1936, The Slovak Syndicate, an organization comprised of the trusteeship of the five lodges, was born and the land was transferred to the Syndicate from Union Savings.
Through the efforts of Slanina, the Syndicate was able to circumvent a three-year waiting period for a liquor license by affiliating with the Slovak Independent Political Club and doors to the new Slovak Independent Political Club were opened on May 11, 1936.
In June, 1937, Holy Trinity Br. 533 unanimously agreed they wanted to join the syndicate, and Slanina agreed – at no profit to himself – to sell his share to Br. 533. Thus, the lodges were officially united on June 30, 1937,
On April 7, 1940, the club began to operate under its own name.
As the American Slovak Club prospered, officers looked to future growth and in 1944 purchased a portion of land with 25-feet of frontage for $285 on Broadway between 29th and 30th Streets. Several other options for land were taken until the property as we know It today was in the hands of The Slovak Syndicate.
In 1949, a building committee was organized to formulate plans. In 1954, three women’s lodges, St, Ann’s Br. 114, St. Mary Magdalene, Br. 77 and Wreath 11, Sokols, joined the Slovak Syndicate.
Spurred on by men like Dominik Sloboda, the committee met numerous times and made several changes in plans, and, on Sunday, January 21,1956, ground was broken for the new American Slovak Club, A decades-old dream for many Slovaks finally became a reality. The cornerstone was laid on May 27, 1956, and the grand opening was held November 3, 1956. Cost of construction, at first estimated at more than $300,000, was pared down to $238,520.
Since 1956, The American Slovak Club leaders have made substantial land acquisitions, along with additions and remodelings, making the American Slovak Club the finest facility of its type in the city, and one of the finest anywhere.