Shortly after President Truman left the White House for Independence, Missouri in 1953, some of his friends and former White House staffers concluded that they were "out but happy." They realized the importance of continuing their social and political relationships with fellow Democrats through every circumstance.
A group headed by Charlie Murphy, Don Dawson, David Lloyd, Martin Freedman and David Stowe began compiling a list of names and phone numbers, then reached out with the intention of keeping friends and patriots together. The Woman's National Democratic Club permitted this loyal corps to meet in its club for a monthly luncheon. The group named itself the "Out but Happy Club."
Soon, the group incorporated as the "National Capitol Democratic Club," moving to the Hamilton Hotel Coffee Shop at 14th and K Streets N.W. As interest and membership grew, the Club moved in January 1957 to the Carlton Starlight Room. There, the fashionable dance floor with its starlit ceiling hosted throngs of Democrats throughout the Kennedy and Johnson years. In addition, the hotel’s ballroom was used for banquets. Former President Truman and Vice-president Lyndon Johnson were among those honored there.
Next, the Club took up quarters in the Watergate Hotel Restaurant. With both membership and activity levels continuing to grow, larger quarters were needed. The Crystal Room of the Willard Hotel was the answer. Its elegance and warmth will always be remembered. When the Willard had to be closed in 1968, the Club moved to the Dodge Hotel on Capitol Hill near the Senate Office Buildings. The Club has been located on the Hill ever since.
In order to serve Members of the House of Representatives to better advantage, the Club used a fondly-remembered bar and grill, with private dining room, in the Congressional Hotel across from the Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings. When the House acquired the Congressional Hotel, the Club took over the hotel’s dining room, kitchen and another dining room for use by private parties and re-named it "The Filibuster Room." The entire layout was redecorated and refurnished with money from the Club’s treasury. It was in these hallowed halls that the Club's name was changed to the National Democratic Club.
Subsequently, the Club purchased the famous Rotunda Restaurant at 30 Ivy Street S.E. on Capitol Hill to meet the demands of a large membership. The building was closed in October 1984 for an extensive remodeling, and reopened in March 1986 with a glittering gala attended by a capacity crowd of over 500 Democrats.
When Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in 1994, the Club once again adapted to the times by selling its building to the Democratic National Committee while retaining the large first floor bar, restaurant and kitchen facilities under a long-term lease. Then came the Renaissance. In 2004 and 2005, the Club started growing again, adding hundreds of new members, unveiling the best cuisine on Capitol Hill, and expanding into the neighboring Townhouse at 40 Ivy Street S.E. to meet the membership’s increasing demands for great food and service, catered events, conference space and administrative office space.
Today, the Club has rebuilt its membership and finances, and is strongly positioned to continue expanding. Our goal is to provide the best level of service to our host of loyal members. The Club welcomes Democrats from every state to join us. Once again, the place to be is your NDC!