Founded in June 1886, the Chicago Club of the University of Illinois was the first organization of University of Illinois Alumni in Chicago. Today’s Chicago Illini Club can trace its roots back to this date and thank the Chicago Club’s founders and first officers, Lorado Taft (1879), Robert Orr (1882), C. G. Neely and Jacob Weiss. The Illini Club Bulletin published in May 1910 describes the Chicago Club:
It was open to both men and women and the latter played quite an active part in the organization. A large formal banquet was held every spring and meetings were called as the occasion demanded, with speakers from the University faculty or selected from the prominent alumni. The varsity teams that visited the city were entertained and, during the summer, picnics and lake excursions were held.
The Chicago Club of the University of Illinois was succeeded by the Illini Club of Chicago, and finally into the title we have today: The Chicago Illini Club.
The Illinois State Historical Society had its Centennial Awards banquet on October 13, 2006, at the Palmer House Hilton, and recognized the Chicago Illini Club as being over 100 years old. Other organizations recognized that night included the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago History Museum, Illinois State University, TC Industries, the Women's Club at the University of Illinois at Urbana and the Lincoln Park Zoo.