The origin of the club dates back to 1857, when 18 gentlemen founded the Società del Tunnel. The club, inaugurated on 16th June 1857, had its premises in Palazzo Da Passano, next to Teatro Carlo Felice. The building was demolished during the works for the opening of Via Roma, and in 1872 the Club moved to Palazzo Malfante in Via Carlo Felice 9 (now Via XXV Aprile).
The name of the club probably refers to a card game common around the mid XIX Century.
Among the promoters of Società del Tunnel there were top-level names of the artistic and political world of the period: cellist Luigi Venzano, violin superstar and Paganini’s sole pupil Camillo Sivori, maestro Angelo Mariani, conductor of Teatro Carlo Felice, writer and patriot Anton Giulio Barrili, patriot Emanuele Celesia, Sir James Hudson, British diplomat and spin doctor of the Italian unification process.
At the origin of the present club, there is also the Circolo Artistico, established on 15th January 1882.
The first premises of this club, in Palazzo Antoniotto Cattaneo, Piazza della Nunziata, were inaugurated with a great party on 20th March 1882; local press of the time devoted ample coverage to the event, and Nicolò Bacigalupo, then Treasurer of the club, in 1883 celebrated it in verse with an operetta.
Together with president Domenico Celesia, the club put together great protagonists of industry and professions, in an age of huge economic expansion of the city (among others, architect Alfredo D’Andrade, businessmen Edilio Raggio, Evan Mackenzie, Cesare Gamba, François and Clément Gondrand), but also famous artists such as Giuseppe Verdi, Camillo Sivori, sculptor Giulio Monteverde and painters Niccolò Barabino and Santo Bertelli.
In 1889, the club moved to Palazzo Giorgio Spinola (also known as Palazzo Tedeschi), in Salita Santa Caterina 4. The new location was furnished with an extensive library, pianos, luxurious carpets, antique furniture, ornaments and works of art, as well as desks and accessories for the drawing school, to provide members the opportunity of becoming artists themselves.
Circolo Artistico Tunnel was the result of the 1891 merger, between Società del Tunnel and Circolo Artistico.
The newly born club initially maintained its premises in Palazzo Tedeschi; in 1894 it moved to Palazzo Gerolamo Pallavicini, in Via Carlo Felice 12 and, finally, in 1930 to Palazzo Angelo Giovanni Spinola in Via Garibaldi 5, where it remained for the following 80 years.
During WW1, many club members were distinguished for acts of heroism and valour; during the tragic events of WW2, when the city suffered extensive bombings, for the short period 1942 – 1945 the word Tunnel, considered “foreign”, was suppressed, and the club modified its name into Circolo Artistico.
At the end of the war, the old name of the club was immediately restored and “Il Tunnel” (as the club is informally called) reprised its important role in city life: the reconstruction and economic boom era had begun and the club was again the “home away from home” for the business, cultural and professional world.
Among the great club members of the postwar period, may be mentioned the hematologist Alberto Marmont, the lawyer Mauro De André, businessmen Riccardo Garrone and Paolo Mantovani, the painter Raimondo Sirotti.
In July 2009, the club moved to Via Garibaldi 6 (Palazzo Gio Battista Spinola, then Doria) just opposite the former historic clubhouse, after a careful and accurate restoration work of the present Clubhouse.