California Club

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The California Club
California Club 1.JPG
California Club is located in California
California Club
Location538 S Flower St, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates34°3′1″N 118°15′23.1″W / 34.05028°N 118.256417°W / 34.05028; -118.256417Coordinates: 34°3′1″N 118°15′23.1″W / 34.05028°N 118.256417°W / 34.05028; -118.256417
AreaLess than 1 acre (0.40 ha)[2]
ArchitectRobert D. Farquhar
Architectural styleItalian Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference No.10000425[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJuly 6, 2010[1]
Designated LAHCMNovember 2, 1966[3]

The California Club is a private club established in 1888. Despite being the second-oldest such club in Southern California,[citation needed] it was only listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.[2]

"The people who run Los Angeles, belong to the Jonathan Club; the people who own Los Angeles belong to The California Club."[4] All new members must be invited by at least six existing club members, and then pass a series of interviews hosted by the club's membership committee', along with several background/reference checks.

The club, ranks #13 in the "Centrality Rankings", by G. William Domhoff. In his book discussing social clubs, policy-planning groups, and corporations. Also listed within a network study of ruling-class cohesiveness, published in 2005.[5]

The clubhouse[edit]

In the late 1920s, purchase of land was negotiated with construction starting on the seven-story clubhouse in late 1928.[6] The building was designed by Robert D. Farquhar,[7] an architect trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The American Institute of Architects awarded Farquhar its Distinguished Honor Award for the design of the California Club building.[8]

According to the National Park Service:

The structure is considered one of the most important buildings of the architect Robert D. Farquhar. Built in 1930, The Italian Renaissance Revival style building, with its setbacks and tower, was among the largest buildings in the immediate area when the site was chosen. Elements like the private forecourt, which partially shields the front entrance and first floor, provides the club with a sense of privacy and understated design.[9]

The building was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on July 6, 2010.[1] The listing was featured in the National Park Service's weekly list of July 16, 2010.[10]

In addition to fine antiques and handcrafted furniture, the clubhouse is decorated with a collection of Western-themed, plein air paintings by such American landscape painters as J. Bond Francisco, Elmer Wachtel, Franz A. Bischoff, George Kennedy Brandriff, William Wendt and Paul Lauritz.[citation needed]

Organizational history[edit]

The California Club was incorporated on December 24, 1888. The first organizational meeting was held September 24, 1887, "in Justice Austin's courtroom", with N. C. Coleman as chairman and H. T. DeWilson as secretary.

The constitution and bylaws of the Union Social Club, of San Francisco, was reported and accepted without any change by the body of gentlemen assembled. There was considerable discussion on the ... name of the club, and ... it was decided to call it the California Club, of Los Angeles. The section in the bylaws granting army and navy officers all the privileges of members upon half-rate caused considerable feeling among the members. Four votes were taken on the question, and at last it was decided to allow the bylaws to read as they have for twenty-five years in the Union Club.[11]

The club's first location was in the second-floor rooms over the Tally-Ho Stables on the northwest corner of First and Fort (Broadway) streets,{{Cite[7] where the Los Angeles County Law Library now stands. It moved to the Wilcox Building on the southeast corner of Second and Spring streets in 1895, occupying the two top floors, the fourth and fifth. The building was distinguished as the first in Los Angeles to have two elevators—one for the public and the other for members. The men's dining room, reading room, bar and lounge were on the top floor. On the floor below was the ladies' dining room.

Exterior street view of the five-story California Club building on Fifth Street and Hill Street, ca. 1905-1907

The club remained at the Wilcox Building for ten years. Increased membership impelled the club to seek a new location in the southward and westward direction of the expansion of the city. In 1904 the club's headquarters were moved to a new five-story building with a basement and a roof garden on the northwest corner of Fifth and Hill streets. The current clubhouse was completed on August 25, 1930.

At various times in its history, the California Club was accused of discrimination against African Americans, Jews, and other minorities.[12][13][14] In a vote taken in June 1987, 90 percent of the voting members favored admitting women.[15][16][17][18] In addition, the Los Angeles City Council in May 1987 voted 12-0 to ban discriminatory practices at institutions in Los Angeles like the California Club.[19] Since that time, the Club has maintained a non-discriminatory policy for admission to membership.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Announcements and actions on properties for the National Register of Historic Places for July 16, 2010". Weekly Listings. National Park Service. July 16, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  2. ^ a b Architectural Resources Group, Jennifer Trotoux (December 28, 2009). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: The California Club". National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-08-14. (46 pages, with exterior and interior photos)
  3. ^ Los Angeles Department of City Planning (2007-09-07). "Historic - Cultural Monuments (HCM) Listing: City Declared Monuments" (PDF). City of Los Angeles. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2010-08-14. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Changing tradition". Los Angeles Times. 2011-03-20. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  5. ^ Domhoff, G. William (April 2005). "Social Cohesion & the Bohemian Grove". Sociology Department. Who rules America?. UC Santa Cruz. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "Driving Directions". California Club. Archived from the original on September 17, 2017. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "PCAD - California Club, Clubhouse #4, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA". Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  8. ^ David L. Clark, A History of the California Club, 1887–1997
  9. ^ "Weekly Highlight: The California Club, Los Angeles, California". National Park Service.
  10. ^ "Gentlemen's Club". Los Angeles Times. September 25, 1887. p. 1. ProQuest 163400723.Library card required.
  11. ^ Jack Smith (March 2, 1969). "County Aide Calls Club Ethnically Restrictive". Los Angeles Times. p. B2.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  12. ^ David Johnston (June 5, 1986). "Arco Takes Stand on Discrimination in Clubs". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Abby Sewell (March 20, 2011). "Changing Tradition". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 6, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  14. ^ "California Club > Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences".
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2009-10-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Reich, Kenneth (October 24, 1987). "Foe of Women in Club Claims Support". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  17. ^ Reich, Kenneth (March 17, 1988). "California Club Reconfirms Its Vote to Admit Women". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  18. ^ Susan Seager (May 27, 1987). "Discrimination banned at private clubs". United Press International.


  • Maynard McFie, The History of the California Club.

External links[edit]

Media related to California Club at Wikimedia Commons