History of The Royal Vagabonds, Inc.

Royal Vagabonds Founding Charter Members – 1930

Seated L to R: John Procope, William Smith, Earl Scott
Standing 2nd row: Victor Reef, Henry Harding, Kermit Wheeler, Harry Bracy, Richard Jackson, Fred Alston, Nathaniel Sweets, Patrobas Robinson, Chauncy Elam, Willie Avery
Standing 3rd row: Clarence Hunter, Thomas Giles, Louis Woodson, Hannibal Saundle, William Alexande, Cremus Evans, Fred Pruitt, Guy Ruffin.

The Royal Vagabonds, Inc. organization had its early beginnings in the late 1930’s when a small group of St. Louis Black professionals and businessmen got together to plan, implement, and share common goals and activities due to limited social and intellectual opportunities that existed for “men of color” during those days. Originally the group was called “The Vagabonds,” but later changed the name to “The Royal Vagabonds.” Their original meetings were held in members’ homes, where they met to plan and implement activities, which were generally held at either the Poro Hotel & College, the Peoples Finance Building, or the Pump Room.

The “Vagabonds Social Club” was incorporated by the State of Missouri in the 1950’s and shortly thereafter the members decided to purchase a “house of our own.” Each member was assessed a hundred dollar ($100) fee for the down payment toward the purchase of a building. A building at #64 Vandeventer was later identified and purchased and became their new permanent meeting place! With much excitement and enthusiasm, the house was proudly refurbished by the members with additional help from their wives. To show off their newly refurbished home, it became the new location for their annual grand gala event – The Royal Vagabonds New Year’s Eve Party!

Things went along fine until the City of St. Louis decided to build a juvenile detention center on the site. This forced the club to find and purchase a new building, which is now the current location at 4315 Westminster Place. This grand mansion was originally designed and built for Pierre C. Maffitt in 1901 and was later renovated and refurbished following the tornado of 1959, which destroyed parts of the roof and gutters.

Since its early beginnings, the organization has evolved and grown into an influential membership of over 90 members. Thus, positioning The Royal Vagabonds, Inc. to become and remain socially and philanthropically active by providing needed services, resources, and monetary contributions to individuals and organizations throughout the St. Louis community.

On November 8, 2015, the Royal Vagabonds hosted a celebratory event at the St. Louis Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel, honoring the 85th Anniversary (1930 – 2015) of the founding of the club.