Old Colony Club
The original Colony Club building in 2010
|Location||120 Madison Ave., New York, New York|
|Architect||McKim,Mead & White; Kendall & Baldwin|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival, Other|
|NRHP Reference #||80002706|
|Added to NRHP||April 23, 1980|
|Designated NYCL||May 17, 1966|
The Colony Club is a women-only private social club in New York City. Founded in 1903 by Florence Jaffray Harriman, wife of J. Borden Harriman, as the first social club established in New York City by and for women, it was modeled on similar clubs for men. Today, men are admitted as guests.
With other wealthy women, including Anne Tracy Morgan (a daughter of J.P. Morgan), Harriman raised $500,000, and commissioned Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White to build the original clubhouse, later known as the "Old Colony Club". This building – at 120 Madison Avenue, between East 30th and East 31st Streets on the west side of Madison – was built between 1904 and 1908 and was modelled on eighteenth-century houses in Annapolis, Maryland.
The interiors, which exist largely unchanged and have been accorded the landmark status, were created by Elsie de Wolfe – later to become Lady Mendl – a former actress who had recently opened an interior-design business, and whose companion, the theatrical agent Elisabeth Marbury, was one of the club's founders. Stanford White was slain by Harry K. Thaw months before construction of the Colony Club was completed. The building was designed in the Federal Revival style, and has unusual brickwork done in a diaper pattern as a notable feature of its facade.
The Old Colony Club was sold after the club moved to its new location in 1916. Today, the building houses the East Coast headquarters of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It was awarded landmark status by the City of New York in 1966.
The second clubhouse, located at 564 Park Avenue, also known as 51 East 62nd Street, on the northwest corner, was commissioned in 1913 and constructed from 1914 to 1916. It was designed by Delano & Aldrich in the Neo-Georgian style, with interiors designed by Elsie de Wolfe The building has a marble base with red-brick and marble trim and columns for the upper floors. According to Andrew Dolkart:
This is not one of Delano & Aldrich's more elegant works in the Colonial idiom, perhaps because it was nearly impossible to create a well-proportioned design for a building with the complex spatial requirements of this club. The beautifully appointed interior included the lounges, dining rooms, and bedrooms common to social clubs, but also had a two-story ballroom, a basement swimming pool and spa that connected via an express elevator to a gymnasium on the fifth floor, two squash courts, servants' rooms (in 1925 there were thirteen female servants), and even a kennel where members could leave their pets.
In 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's birthday party was held at the Colony Club; among the guests were four couples whom Kissinger had ordered to be wiretapped, and in 2007, memorial services for Brooke Astor were held there. The club continues its policy of women-only membership – new members must be recommended by current members — although it was unsuccessfully contested in court in 1987 by conservative radio talk-show host Bob Grant and Sidney Siller, who founded the National Organization for Men.
Prominent members, past and present
- Madeleine Talmage Force Astor – wife of John Jacob Astor IV
- Florence Jaffray Harriman – founder
- Elisabeth Marbury
- Anne Morgan – a daughter of J. P. Morgan, and a founding member
- Frances Louisa Tracy Morgan – wife of J. P. Morgan
- Judith Peabody
- Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
- Julia Catlin Park Taufflieb – the first American women to receive the Légion d'honneur in World War I for turning her chateau in northern France into a 300-bed hospital
- Ava Lowle Willing – founding member
- List of American gentlemen's clubs
- The Colony, a former restaurant near the Colony Club, sharing many of the same patrons
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Blair, Karen J. "Colony Club" in Jackson, Kenneth T. (ed.), The Encyclopedia of New York City (2nd edition). New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-300-11465-2, p.283
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York:John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.78
- White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5., pp.215 and 386
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York:John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.155
- Torgovnick, Kate. "Private Clubs: Hideouts of the Rich and Shameless: Colony Club" New York Post (January 18, 2009)
- Dolkart, Andrew S.. Touring the Upper East Side: Walks in Five Historic Districts. 1995, New York Landmarks Conservancy
- Jedrzejczak, Antonina. "New York City's Top Members-Only Clubs For Elite Power Players: Colony Club" Business Insider (April 23, 2010)
- Full list of members (1908)
- "Julia Catlin Park Taufflieb" on Find A Grave
- Media related to Colony Club at Wikimedia Commons