Friday, March 7, 2008

The University Club

The University Club of Washington, D.C.--
former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill loved playing poker here with Richard Nixon

This building is the University Club of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1904, the club was organized in the Willard Hotel and was formed by the gathering together of alumni from 66 universities and colleges. Twenty-four other cities had similar clubs at the time. The University Club's first president was then-Secretary of War and later-to-be U.S. president William Howard Taft.

The Club was originally located at 15th and Eye Streets NW near McPherson Square, but the Depression saw drastic declines in membership numbers. Eventually, the Club's facility was bought by the United Mine Workers. Meanwhile, over on 16th Street, the Racquet Club of Washington decided to build its own building. The organization was likewise not immune to the Depression and the two clubs merged into one in 1936.

Until the 1980s, it was exclusively a men's club, but after lengthy controversy and discussion women were finally admitted to the club. Perks of membership include: dining, accommodations, fitness centers, event rooms, and reciprocal agreements with clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rice(1), South America(2), Canada, Mexico, Africa(3), Oceania, Asia and the Middle East(4), the Caribbean(5), and Europe(6).

1. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawai'i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
2. Argentina, Chile, Columbia, and Peru.
3. Kenya and South Africa.
4. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, India, and Egypt.
5. Bermuda.
6. Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Scotland, and Spain.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08


Dusty Lens said...

Quite the posh looking building with the architecture.

The Artful Eye said...

Beautifully, stately facade. Interesting facts.

Thank-you for this wonderful journey.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

I think that 'the artful eye' summed it up nicely with 'stately.' It is a grand building with an interesting history. I am glad to be able to cyber visit!

D.C. Confidential said...

DL: It's also a bit posh on the inside, too. It could do with some elegance, but it's a club. Not the Waldorf-Astoria or the Mandarin Oriental.

AE: You're welcome! Thank you for coming along!

Lisa: I agree with you and AE. This is a stately building. I've been to events and lunches here, which is always kind of fun. It's one of the few non-partisan clubs in the city, which makes it welcoming, as well!