According to Illinois State Society President Bill Hermelin who was there, the society was holding its annual reception for the Illinois Congressional delegation in honor of three retiring members of Congress including House Minority Whip Leslie C. Arends in the Longworth Building on Sept. 24, 1974.
"All of a sudden, Secret Service agents came in to scout the room, we had no advance notice," said Hermelin. President Gerald R. Ford had only assumed the office of president about six weeks before in August upon the resignation of President Nixon.
Left to right: Congressman Les Arends, President Ford, Congressman Harold Collier, Congressman Ken Gray, and Illinois State Society President Bill Hermelin seated at right.
It was only the second time in the history of the club that a president had visited an Illinois party. The first was in January 1871 when President Grant was the guest of honor for an Illinois State Association Reception at the Masonic Hall at 9th and F Streets, NW. That building still stands in 2012.