On the evening of February 23, 1905, Paul Harris and three friends, Sylvester Schiele, Gustavus Loehr, and Hiram Shorey, met in Loehr's business office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago to discuss Paul's idea that businessmen should get together periodically for camaraderie and to enlarge their circle of business and professional acquaintances.
From their discussion came the idea for a men's club which would meet weekly and whose membership would be limited to one representative from each business and profession. After enlisting a fifth member, Harry Ruggles, the group was formally organized as the Rotary Club of Chicago. By the end of 1905, the club's roster showed a membership of 30 with Sylvester Schiele as president and Ruggles as treasurer. Paul Harris declined office in the new club and didn't become its president until two years later.
Around 1980, the Rotary Club of Chicago, the club that originated from that gathering, set about to preserve the site. It rented the room and undertook an extensive effort to recreate the office as it existed in 1905. For several years, the club maintained the room as a shrine for visiting Rotarians. That responsibility was eventually assumed by the Paul Harris 711 Club, a nonprofit organization comprising Rotarians from around the world. In 1989, when the Unity Building was scheduled to be demolished, the 711 Club carefully dismantled the office, salvaging the original interior from doors to radiators. Everything was placed in storage until a permanent place to reconstruct the room could be found. In 1993, the Board of Directors of Rotary International set aside space for it on the 16th floor of the RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois.!