The University Club, a classic Southern mansion in Tuscaloosa, has been there since 1834. It is now fully reopened for business as a restaurant and events venue following a three-year closure for a $17 million renovation.

It had been closed since the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020.

The facility is owned by the University of Alabama and managed under contract with "Invited Clubs."

A “quite grand” opening and christening will be held June 7, by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and UA president Dr. Stuart Bell.

The venue is also taking bookings for events – dinners, lunches, receptions and conferences. Seventy-one events have been booked for 2024. A naturally popular time for bookings is Alabama’s football season, with game-goers using the University Club for pre-game brunches, after-game gatherings and game night events.

Individuals and groups can rent spaces in the club without being members. For information about reservations and memberships, contact "Invited Clubs" at

The renovations added 3,000 gross square feet to the previous 12,840 square feet. The facility is divided into different dining areas for small, medium and large groups.

The club is also now open for public dining:

Sundays:  Brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Monday: Closed.

Tuesday through Friday: Breakfast 8-10 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m

Thursdays-Saturdays: Dinner 5-9 p.m.

Information can be found here.

In addition to serving groups and individual dining, the club serves an educational function. Student internships and jobs are available for hospitality management students in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

The stately Greek Revival mansion atop University Boulevard and Queen City Avenue is an unofficial demarcation line. Go west, and you are immediately in downtown Tuscaloosa. Go east, and you are on "the strip," the famous entertainment district frequented by University of Alabama students and visitors.

The club's reopening marks the 80th anniversary of its acquisition by the University of Alabama. It will also be the 190th anniversary of the building in 1834. 

The original building was built by a steamship operator on the Tuscaloosa-to-Mobile river route. Captain James Dearing built it in 1834 and lived there until his death.

It was the Alabama governor's mansion, as Tuscaloosa was the state capital from 1828 to 1848. It is still locally called "the Governor's Mansion" to this day. Gov. Arthur Bagby lived there during his term from 1837 to 1841. Bagby left for the U.S. Senate and then as minister to Russia.

Historicmarkeruniversityclub Alabama News
Historic marker, University Club. UA

It was then a private residence until 1944, when the University of Alabama acquired it. UA has used it as a venue for faculty, alumni and visitor events. It also had paid members with dining privileges.

The club will now have multiple uses:

  • The hospitality management degree program at UA will use it as a training ground for students to get hands-on experience. Graduates of the program will have on-the-job references on their resumes.

  • A membership club will be operated by INVITED, the largest operator of private membership clubs with 202 clubs across the United States.

  • It will serve as a staging area for members going to football games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, with parking on-site and a trolley shuffling members back and forth. Lunch and tailgate to-go boxes will be available. Not to mention a nice place to sit with restrooms. A place for members to headquarter on game day.

"We're bringing back to life The University Club," Bell said.

Bell is an engineer by education and academics. He was once head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Alabama. Don't you know that he pored over the details of the $17 million in renovations to the 180-year-old treasure?

"Roll Tide, and meet us at the University Club."

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler’s beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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