Among The Clubs 1890

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If any one had suggested: the possibility of ladies being received in aristocratic male clubs a
few years ago he would have been considered a most promising candidate for Bedlam. Despite this fact two of the most fashionable and exclusive clubs in New York and one club of the same character in Brooklyn now make provision for the reception and entertainment of the wives and daughters of their members. A third New York club will soon be added to the list of the clubs which have sanctioned the innovation, and other clubs are looking in that direction.

The revolution was started by the famous Somerset Club of Boston, than which there is no more exclusive and conservative club organization in America. This club eight years ago decided to fit up a suite of rooms exclusively for the accommodation of ladies, and provided a private entrance to this suite of rooms which were entirely isolated from other parts of the club. The wife or daughter of a member was permitted to introduce other ladies as her guests, the sole restriction being that she should in her own handwriting enter the names of her guests in a book kept for the purpose. The innovation won the immediate approval of the exclusive social circles so largely represented in the Somerset Club, and speedily became one of the distinctive features of that organization.

When the Hamilton Club of Brooklyn was incorporated it adopted this feature, and soon after, when the Lawyers' Club was established in the Equitable Building, the same system was adopted on a much broader scale. The Lawyers' Club set aside private dining rooms, a public dining room, a ladies' parlor, boudoir, and bathroom, for the use of wives and daughters of its members, and
subsequently placed them in charge of experienced ladies' maids, who are always in attendance. No gentleman is ever admitted to these rooms unless he be accompanied by a lady. Upon his election to the Lawyers' Club a member fills out a blank with the names of the lady members of his family to whom he wishes to have the privileges of the club extended. The names so entered are copied upon a register, and thereafter the ladies named by the member have the freedom of the suite of rooms set apart for the use of their sex. They can gain admittance to these rooms at any time during the day, can meet lady friends there by appointment, can lunch or dine there, or can entertain a party of friends at luncheon, if they so desire. No check is ever presented to them, but the amount of indebtedness which they incur is charged to the member of the club at whose instance they are introduced. This somewhat remarkable departure has worked admirably and has given entire satisfaction to the most conservative members of the club. A somewhat similar custom is in vogue at the rooms of the Riding Club, and there, too, it has met with the warmest favor.

The recent sensation in the Union League Club over the somewhat remarkable exposure of certain delinquent members by Col. Shepard in his newspaper, has set club men to talking about the question of club etiquette. There is no doubt that at present there is great laxity in the observance of the unwritten but none the less recognized rules of club conduct. As one of the recognized autocrats of clubdom remarked the other day, "There seems to be a drift toward making clubs a sort of commercial association in which each man looks out for himself first and lets his fellow-clubmen look out for themselves." In the judgment of this particular authority on club life and there is no better in New York city, the ruling principle of clubmen's relations to one another should be the ever-present consideration for others first and for one's self afterward. But it isn't under the present order of things. Customs prevail in most American clubs which would shock the sensibilities of the English clubman, and a well-defined code of club etiquette would be heartily welcomed by the sticklers for the old-time courtesies and proprieties of club life.

In the Union and Knickerbockers Clubs the "association of gentlemen" idea is carried out to the fullest. Neither one has a charter and any member of either club can be held responsible for the entire debts of his club. By declining to avail themselves of the protection which the law gives to a chartered corporation the members of these clubs assume the risk of unlimited liability associations, but they hold that the secrecy with which their freedom from legal trammels surrounds their institutions is full compensation. Neither club ever takes any steps to enforce payment of members' indebtedness. A member can run up a bill of a couple of thousand dollars or
more on a big dinner, for instance, and should he fail to meet his debt of honor when the bill is presented no attempt is made to force a settlement. Should such a case arise he would simply be expelled and thereby be forever ostracized in clubdom. Cases of the kind are, however, so rare as to be practically unknown.

On the walls of the German Clubhouse in Twenty-fifth Street are framed plans and views of the handsome new clubhouse in Fifty-ninth Street, opposite the Park. The club's new home will be ready for it by Christmas. The building has a frontage of 75 feet on Fifty-ninth Street and a depth of 120 feet, and rises to a height of five stories; its front is of colitic limestone. The second floor of the house will be almost entirely given up to the use of the wives and daughters of the members, a ladies' restaurant and reception room, &c., being provided for their accommodation. There are 22 apartments and suites for the use of members who may wish to live at the club, and the $20,000 which these apartments are expected to annually yield will more than pay the interest on the $350,000 which the club has invested in its new house.

The Fulton Club, which was organized a few years ago for the convenience of business men in and about Fulton Street, is in an exceedingly prosperous condition. Its membership is limited to 200, and there are already 175 members and a dozen or so names of would-be members on the bulletin board. The membership is exclusively composed of solid business men who prefer to lunch
at a nicely-appointed clubhouse rather than at any of the restaurants in the vicinity. Most of the members are in the metal, drug, or leather business. The club's quarters are in the Market and Fulton Bank Building at 81 Fulton Street.

The Liederkranz Society has elected officers for the ensuing year, as follows: President-William Vigelius; First Vice President-Hubert Cillis; Second Vice President-Dr. J.H. Vonner; Corresponding Secretary-William Domansky; Recording Secretary-G.A. Euring; Treasurer-Justus F. Poggenburg; Trustees (for three years)-Richard H. Adams, Julius Hoffman, William Foster, and William Vigelius; (for two years)-Ralph Trautmann, Julius Zeller, Adam Keller, and E. Rilhuber; (for one year)-Karl Hahn, F.R. Hinrath, Charles Plock, and R. Van Emde. The society now has a membership of 1,528.

There is an element in the University Club which would welcome a little less conservatism on the part of the management and a corresponding increase in the life of the organization. The club does to be sure, hold informal receptions occasionally, but nothing in the way of dinners, large receptions, or the like has been done in years. Distinguished Alumni of the various colleges are not infrequently present at the club gatherings, but they are never entertained by the club as a club.

No better illustration of the present tendency of club life can be cited than the recent remarkable growth of down-town business men's clubs. Within a few years the Lawyers' Club, the Down-Town Association, the Business Men's Republican Down-Town Club, the Merchants' Club, the Fulton Club, the Business Men's Club, the Dry Goods Club, the Paint, Oil, and Varnish Club, and
a dozen other less important club organizations have opened quarters south of Grand Street.

With the return of the literary people who compose the membership of the Grolier Club, that organization is again becoming lively. The Library Committee of the club has been busily engaged during the Summer in preparing the "Grolier Collection," and many notable additions to the club's literary treasures have recently been made. Prominent among them is a fine edition of John
Milton's "Areopagitica," which contains a remarkably fine etched portrait of the author of "Paradise Lost,"

Tomorrow night's meeting of the Ohio Society will be a "ladies' night" affair. Ex-President J. F. Halloway of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers will read a paper on "The Story of an Ohio Boy who Wanted to be an Engineer." Eugene Clark, the well-known tenor, who is a member of the society, and other artists will sing and a collation will be served.

There is a mistaken impression to the effect that Chauncey M. Depew is a member of a great number of New York clubs. As a matter of fact Mr. Depew is President of the Union League and a member of three or four other clubs, but he is in no sense an "all-around clubman." He rarely visits any club except the Union League.

The Democratic Club of the City of New York is now housed in its one-hundred-and-seventy-five-thousand-dollar home at 617 Fifth Avenue. As it has secured 400 members without the attractions of a clubhouse, its officers expect that it will be able to soon
swell the list to 1,000 now that it has an abiding place of its own.

Henry S. Hoyt is the only Union Club man whose membership dates back to the formation of the club in 1836. Next to him in point of seniority of membership is Walter S. Church, who joined the club in 1839.

Chauncey M. Depew will help along the dedicatory exercises of the Brooklyn Union League Club Nov. 12 with an address, thereby extending the congratulations of New York's Union League to its Brooklyn namesake.

The Thirteen Club will defy superstition for the ninety-second time tomorrow evening, when its members will celebrate the "Festival of the Vine" at the Ashland House.

The Governors of the Union Club took an almost unprecedented step when they granted the freedom of the house to the Comte de Paris and the members of his party for sixty days.

Reform Club men are jubilant over the nomination of John De Witt Warner for Congress in the Eleventh District, inasmuch as the union Democratic nomination guarantees his election as Congressman Quinn's successor. Mr. Warner was one of the incorporators of the Reform Club, and is Chairman of its Committee on Tariff Reform. He has been conspicuously active as a tariff reformer, and the Reform Club lent all its influence to his candidacy.

The Comte de Paris and the friends who accompany him will be informally entertained at the Tuxedo Club grounds next Saturday.


Website: The History
Article Name: Among the Clubs: 1890
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


New York Times Oct 12, 1890. p.20 (1 page)
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