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NYC - University Club | by wallyg
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NYC - University Club

The University Club of New York, a private club whose charter dates to 1865, actually dates to 1851 when a group of college friends, principally Yale alumni, who founded the club hoping to extend their collegial ties. Founded to celebrate the union of social duty and intellectual life, the Club states in its charter that the purpose of the organization shall be the "promotion of Literature and Art by establishing and maintaining a Library, Reading Room and Gallery of Art, and by such other means as shall be expedient and proper for such purposes."


The first meeting was held in the rooms of the Columbia College Law School, where Theodore Dwight, the Club's first president and a Hamilton College alumnus, was a professor. After several moves, the club took over an existing town house at 26th Street and Madison Avenue in 1883.


By the 1890s, with its membership limited by the size of its building to 1,500 resident members and 900 who lived elsewhere, the Club was looking for a larger space. It acquired the St. Luke's Hospital site and proceeded to seek an architecture firm. The firm of McKim, Mead and White, who were all members, got the commission to architect the $1 million building, which set the standard for urban social club buildings.


Erected in 1899 in an Italian Renaissance palazzo-style, lead architect, Charles McKim chose a col pink granite for the exterior--a vast contrast against the soft, rich marble used for similar McKim, Mead & White buildings like the Metropolitan Club. Gone, also, were the days of low-rise clubs. McKim, instead, opting to digsuise a six-story building organized around a three-story facade with arched openings. On the ground floor, the large central entry court is surrounded by giant green Connemara marble columns 25 feet high. Along the Fifth Avenue front runs a great red and gold lounging room, with windows starting at the floor.


The next level of high arched windows contains the club's great library, a long room with a vaulted ceiling. Organized into alcoves, the double-height book stacks have small balconies reached by tiny staircases, all underneath a sparkling series of ceiling paintings and embossed decorations by H. Siddons Mowbray. The highest main level holds the dining room, a vast wood paneled space with columns at each end and a coffered ceiling.


In addition to its many grand architectural features, the University Club hosts one of New York's great private art collections, with a particularly strong group of works by great American painters such as Gilbert Stuart and Childe Hassam, who featured the Club's facade in his work "Allies Day, May 1917".


The University Club was designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1967.


National Register #80002726

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Taken on April 8, 2007