Círculo Eça de Queiroz

Brief History and Birth of Círculo Eça de Queiroz
[by Jorge Segurado, March 1980]


«The origin of the club Círculo Eça de Queiroz emerged unexpectedly in New York in 1938, although the basic idea of taking as patron the great writer had not occurred at the time.

It was similar to a country club existing in the surroundings of that city, - which was only for ladies, - huge, surrounded by lawns and charming landscape, in its own building, comfortable and efficient. A charming place for rest and intellectual conviviality.

It was our friend Albino Tavares de Almeida, a medical doctor who very often visited the United States, who introduced a very nice lady, Mrs. Rice, wife of the Chairman of the Canadian Club of New York, to William Pereira de Carvalho, António Ferro and the author of this text.

It was she who took us to the Canadian Club, out of town, where a splendid lunch was made for us. It was another charm of civilization. On the way back in the automobile, António Ferro, with his restless and fertile inventive spirit, proposed to us the creation of a similar organization in Lisbon, a place for intellectual and cultural meetings and for pleasant conviviality as well.

How curious was such an idea unexpectedly arisen on the road and launched by him with enthusiasm.

We immediately strongly discussed this, but among the four of us, only António Ferro and I had no doubt in believing firmly in such an accomplishment.

Already in Lisbon, very months had passed, but the idea remained pure and firm in us both.

During an evening at the Palace Hotel in Estoril, after a dinner of three friends, António Ferro, José Júlio da Silva Bastos and the author of this text, while discussing Art and Literature, the idea of a Círculo with an appropriate ambiance to treat matters of the spirit in good conviviality came naturally to our minds.

The enthusiasm and the express willingness to go forward with the assignment returned.

At that moment it was settled that the three of us would arrange lists of names for that purpose.

And so we did. Two days later, the idea was put into practice. It was taking shape.

In writing and by phone, invitations were made for a first meeting, which took place in Tavares. This was followed by other [meetings], not only at that restaurant, but also at the home of the several persons involved; at the home of Doctor Eduardo Pinto da Cunha (Palace of the Count of Vimioso in Campo Grande); at the home of Júlio Cayola, in Pedrouços; and at José Alvellos’s home, in Rua do Ataíde.

In the meantime we looked for an ancient house in the countryside around the city, but in vain. We then decided to look for it in Lisbon, but nothing came up as well.

One day, however, António Lopes Ribeiro discovers something wonderful, the uninhabited house of the former Fotografia Vasques, in Chiado, very close to the former “Casino”.

Its owner, and our friend, Doctor Emilio Infante de Câmara, agreed not only to rent the house, but also, with much enthusiasm, to join the initiative. As landlord he even contributed to the adaptation works to be made.

The enthusiasm increased and I, as an architect, went into action, with the active assistance of Adelino Nunes, also an architect.

All together, we initiated the work. I designed the master distribution plan in a first stage. Temporarily, the current entrance and the back door stairs served as access to the house.

At the top of the building, there was a large terrace, where conferences and festivals of Theater and Music were carried out in the summer.

Later, in other works, the terrace disappeared and gave way to the Great Hall, with its tiny stage.

Meanwhile, the club was already given a name: Círculo Eça de Queiroz, a very happy idea of António Lopes Ribeiro, a title that was unanimously endorsed and embraced with great and justified enthusiasm.

This was followed by a dinner party at the Hotel Aviz, with all members, the first to which the great poet Maurice Maeterlink attended as guest of honor.

In the meantime, the first phase of the works ended. And on the 25th of November 1940, the Círculo Eça de Queiroz was solemnly inaugurated»

The first Board

The minutes number 1, dated the 7th of December 1940, recounts the first meeting of the Board elected two days prior with the following composition: António Ferro (Chairman), Doctor José Alvellos, Júlio Cayolla, António Lopes Ribeiro and José da Silva Bastos.