The Lotos Club at 5 East 66th St., designed by Richard Howland Hunt
In the afternoon they came unto a land
|Formation||March 15, 1870|
|Headquarters||5 East 66th Street|
The Lotos Club was founded as a gentleman's club in New York City; it has since also admitted women as members. Its founders were primarily a young group of writers and critics. Mark Twain, an early member, called it the "Ace of Clubs". The Club took its name from the poem "The Lotos-Eaters" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, which was then very popular. Lotos was thought to convey an idea of rest and harmony. Two lines from the poem were selected for the Club motto:
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon
The Lotos Club has always had a literary and artistic bent, with the result that it has accumulated a noted collection of American paintings. Its "State Dinners" (1893 menu at right) are legendary fetes for scholars, artists and sculptors, collectors and connoisseurs, writers and journalists, and politicians and diplomats. Elaborate souvenir menus are produced for these dinners.
The Lotos Club's first home was at Two Irving Place, off of 14th Street near the Academy of Music. Journalist DeWitt Van Buren was the Lotos Club's first president; he was succeeded by A. Oakey Hall. Other early Club officers included Vice President F.A. Schwab, Secretary George Hows, and Treasurer Albert Weber. New York Tribune editor Whitelaw Reid was elected Club president in 1877,at which time the Lotos Club moved to 149 Fifth Avenue at 21st Street.
In 1893, the Club moved to 556-558 Fifth Avenue at 46th Street, purchasing their first clubhouse.
It was at the Lotos Club in 1906 that George Harvey, editor of Harper's Weekly, sent up his first trial balloon by proposing Woodrow Wilson for the office of President of the United States. In 1909, with financial backing from Andrew Carnegie, the clubhouse was moved to 110 West 57th Street, in a building designed by architect Donn Barber.
Frank R. Lawrence was the Club's longest serving president, from March 1889 until his death on October 26, 1918. Lawrence was succeeded as president by Chester S. Lord, who served for five years. In 1923, Columbia University president Nicholas Murray Butler was elected president of the Club.
The Club has a long history of showing the work of its artist members and has also held exhibitions of work from the collections of its members including one in 1910 that featured works by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cassatt and Hassam.
In October 1941 the club held a mortgage-burning ceremony to mark payment of the $389,000 owed on the West 57th Street building. But in 1945 members began considering a move to a "simpler clubhouse." The club has been housed since 1947 in a 1900 clubhouse designed by Richard Howland Hunt at 5 East 66th Street. (The building had been commissioned by Margaret Shepard as a gift for her daughter, Mrs. William Jay Schieffelin.)
In 1977, the Club amended its constitution to admit women.
The objectives of this institution shall be to promote and develop literature, art, sculpture, music, architecture, journalism, drama, science, education and the learned professions, and to that end to encourage authors, artists, sculptors, architects, journalists, educators, scientists and members of the musical, dramatic, and learned professions in their work, and for these purposes to provide a place of assembly for them and other persons interested in and sympathetic to them, and their objectives, effort and work.
Lotos Club Medal of Merit
The Club also awards a Foundation Prize and an Award of Distinction.
- Gilbert and Sullivan
- Samuel Clemens
- Sir Henry Irving
- Andrew Carnegie
- Julian Rix
- William Randolph Hearst
- J. Walter Thompson
- Solomon R. Guggenheim
- Frank Winfield Woolworth
- Walter P. Chrysler
- Charles M. Schwab
- Arthur Hays Sulzberger
- Leslie Howard
- George M. Cohan
- William S. Paley
- Orson Welles
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Beverly Sills
- Brooke Astor
- Andrew Wyeth
- Burgess Meredith
- Margaret Mead
- Isaac Stern
- Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy
- Bobby Short
- Yo-Yo Ma
- Mikhail Baryshnikov
- Kathleen Battle
- Mary Higgins Clark
- Mario Cuomo
- David Dinkins
- Alan Gilbert
- Marilyn Horne
- Angela Lansbury
- Peter O'Toole
- James Wolfensohn
- Renee Fleming
- Christopher Plummer
- Stephen Sondheim
- Elaine Stritch
- Susan Stroman
- Wynton Marsalis
- Tom Wolfe
- Alleyne Ireland
- "The Lotos Club," official website. Accessed May 11, 2011.
- "The Lotos Club: History and Objectives," Lotos Club official website. Accessed May 10, 2011.
- A.S. Link, "Woodrow Wilson: The American as Southerner", The Journal of Southern History, 1970.
- Architecture, Volume 19, number 6, page 81
- Price, Charles W. (Lotos Club Vice President). Letter to the editor, New York Times (June 29, 1927).
- Where Fancy Took Flight: Rusty Traces of Sumptuous Architecture on West 57th Street. The New York Times (2014, July 17): retrieved July 20, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lotos Club.|
- Official website
- Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century A New York Art Resources Consortium project. Exhibition catalogs from the Lotos Club.