Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Penn Club of NY and The Harvard Club

Upon my stay during Christmas at the Sofitel New York on West 44th Street, I really took a deep look at the surrounding properties. I am always in such a rush when in the city, it was nice to take a break and really look around at some of the beauty. These 2 buildings just amazed me, such gorgeous works of architecture. I was thrilled to see my favorite architect, Sanford White, had worked on one of them. I hope you enjoy these photos, and the history that goes along with each building. 

In November 1886, the first local group of University of Pennsylvania alumni outside of Philadelphia was formed in New York at a dinner at Delmonico's Restaurant. At the alumni group's annual banquet at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in January, 1900, they presented a plan to secure "a convenient suite of rooms in the middle of the city, adjacent to a cafe." Thereafter, on October 6, 1900, the University of Pennsylvania's Club of New York opened in four ground-floor rooms in the Royalton Hotel, just 200 feet (61 m) west of today's clubhouse. The Penn Club soon had more than 150 members at a time when only 400 alumni lived in the New York area. The Penn Club received its charter from the New York Legislature in 1901.

In 1905, the Club moved to "new and commodious quarters" in the Hotel Stanley at 124 West 47th Street, where it remained until 1910. Between 1911 and 1922, however, the Club did away with a clubhouse, instead focusing on their annual banquet. In 1922, after a three-year search, the Club's directors leased two townhouses on East 50th Street, next to what today is the New York Palace Hotel.

Throughout the 1920s, the Penn Club on East 50th Street was active and successful. Its dining and guest rooms were regularly filled and its dinners and programs were highly attended. The Great Depression, though, quickly hit the Club hard, and it vacated its townhouses in 1935. Thereafter, it shared space in the Cornell Club on East 38th Street, moved to two other clubs, and finally settled in the Phi Gamma Delta Club on West 56th Street, where it remained until 1961, when it moved to the Biltmore Hotel. The Club stayed in the Biltmore Hotel until the hotel was gutted and made an office tower in 1981 by Paul Milstein. After two years of construction, the Club moved to its current location.

You will never see this type of work in 2017. Truly a work of art.  

The funnier thing is, I was watching an episode of Blue Bloods, and Tom Selleck walked into this club in the show. I recognized the street and the building! That was very cool, and at the same time, scary to think I am oh so familiar with this glorious city! 

Founded without a location in 1865 by a group of Harvard University alumni, the club first rented a townhouse on 22nd Street. In 1888, land was acquired by the members on 44th Street. The clubhouse was established in the neighborhood where many of New York City's other clubs such as the New York Yacht Club were located, and across the street from the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York.

The club selected architect Charles Follen McKim, of McKim, Mead & White, for the project. The design was Georgian style of architecture with Harvard brick and Indiana limestone. The building’s façade is reminiscent of the gates at Harvard Yard. In 1905, Harvard Hall, the Grill Room, a new library, a billiard room, and two floors of guest rooms were added.

In 1915 McKim, Mead & White doubled the building’s size by constructing the Main Dining Room, a bar, additional guestrooms, banquet rooms, and athletic facilities including a 7th floor swimming pool. In 2003 a new 40,000-square-feet contemporary glass and limestone building was added by Davis Brody Bond under the direction of J. Max Bond, Jr.

The building is sometimes used for outside corporate events such as business conferences.

This was right next to the hotel and I really just enjoyed looking at all the details.  

How can you not enjoy this?  

I hope you have enjoyed these 2 architectural gems in New York City. You always should be sure to look around you, you can be walking past some amazing piece of art and not even know it!

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