Marines are welcome at the Marines Memorial, living monument

15 Mar 2007 | Cpl. Skye Jones

Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, the Marines’ Memorial Club boasts some of the best rates and most spectacular views in the bay area.

Though the conveniences, friendly staff and pet friendly policy rival any hotel on Union Square, the non-profit club’s tribute to the sacrifices of United States Marines sets the protected landmark apart from other hotels in the square.

“Since the building’s dedication as a living memorial in 1946, it has continued to provide a service for those who serve and those who have gone before,” said Maj. Gen. J. Michael Myatt (ret.), president and chief executive officer of the Marines’ Memorial Association. “We’re educating the public on the sacrifices that the military made for their country, and we’re giving active-duty members rates much cheaper than any of the hotels out in town.”

According to Myatt, a San Francisco native, the 12-story, Beaux Arts-style building originated as the Western Women’s Club in 1926.

“During World War II, the building was full of WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service),” said Myatt. “At that time, there were also half a million Marines in the Pacific. The headquarters for Marine Forces Pacific was close by, so when the war ended, the Marines coming back from Treasure Island ... wanted to find a date. That’s when the Marines found out about the women at this club.”

In 1946, the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Archie Vandegrift,  proposed the idea of a living memorial to pay homage to the Marines who lost their lives during World War II. The Marines eventually purchased the former women’s club and on Nov. 10, 1946, they rededicated the facility as the Marines’ Memorial Club.

As years passed, new additions were added to the club’s floors in an effort to keep the history alive. Features include: a memorial wall for service members who have given their life in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom; a tribute wall for late Iwo Jima photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner, Joe Rosenthal;  and the General Ames Library.

Marines’ Memorial Association members Ardis Normanly and her husband Jerry, an Army veteran, love to relax in the library before a night in the city.

“We really enjoy the library, among the club’s other features,” said Ardis. “The club is just a very convenient place to stay and it’s in walking distance to museums, art galleries and shops.”

The Normanlys also love eating at the Leatherneck Steakhouse, where an elegant steak dinner for two costs approximately $80.

“The most gracious group of people dine here,” said Danny Genolio, restaurant manager, Leatherneck Steakhouse. “I’ve worked at many restaurants, and this one is different. I love working at this club, and I have a lot of pride in serving our guests.”

Access to the steakhouse and club is limited to sponsored guests and members of the Marines’ Memorial Association.

Active-duty military personnel of all branches and service members who have honorably served are eligible for membership. Yearly membership rates are free for active duty and their spouses. Veterans and family members pay $20 annually.

Benefits of membership include discounted rates at the Marines’ Memorial Club, reciprocal club privileges, and a frequent flyer mileage program, among other benefits.

“When the commandant first dedicated this building, he said if the memorial works out, he could envision ‘a club in Boston, New York, and somewhere in the Midwest and the Deep South,’” said Myatt. “The idea was, wherever Marines would go, they would have a place to gather to socialize, commemorate and for exercise.”

Today there are more than 100  clubs worldwide open to association members offering similar benefits.

To join the club or make a reservation, visit or call 415-673-6672.
Headquarters Marine Corps