The Lotos Club's Success: An Organization Known Around The World 1892



The Lotos Club is about to remove from the Bradish Johnson mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-first Street to a new home now in process of preparation further up on Fifth Avenue, nearly opposite the Windsor Hotel. This removal to a more commodious house, which is the property of the club, marks an era in its history and renders seasonable an account of its origin and of the long succession of brilliant entertainments which have magnified its name and made it known in the four quarters of the globe. Although it is not yet quarter of a century since it was founded, it is not claiming too much for it that it is the best known club in the United States and has more extended connections with clubs in foreign countries than any other American club.

Its hospitality to distinguished strangers has been from the beginning the principal feature of its public career, and in this respect it has performed a public function which in other countries and other under institutions has devolved upon officials and magistrates of the municipalities. Among others, two representatives of royalty have been its guests. It has entertained the eminent Frenchmen Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, Henri Rochefort, Augustus Bartholdi, the sculptor; the actor Coquelin, Charles Fechter, Jacques Offenbach; the Italian poet and dramatist Giuseppe Giacosa; Mario, the famous tenor; the Russian composer Rubinstein; the German actor Herr Barnay; a host of eminent Englishmen, including Canon Kingsley, Dean Stanley, Sir Edwin Arnold, Wilkie Collins, Lord Houghton, Prof. Richard A. Proctor, Edmund Yates, George Augustus Sala, Henry Irving, Charles Mathews, J.L. Toole, Frederick Villers, George H. Boughton, Harry Furniss, and nearly every Englishman of note who has visited this country during the past twenty years. It has also included among its guests many of the great personages in our American literary public life, among whom may be mentioned Gen. U.S. Grant, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry M. Stanley, Lieut. A.W. Greely, the Hon. Bayard Taylor, William D. Howells, J.Q.A. Ward, the sculptor; Edwin Booth, Lester Wallack, John Gilbert, Richard H. Stoddard, and Edmund Clarence Stodman, men who have made the last quarter of the century illustrious.

The Lotos Club was organized in March, 1870 by a company of young journalist, who first met in a newspaper office and subsequently established the club at 2 Irving Place. In making the scheme of the new club these men built better than they knew. They laid the foundation on the broad basis of including in its membership not only members of the artistic, literary, and musical world, but men of all professions, business men, men of leisure, the admirers, judges, and promoters of literature and art, frequenters of the theatre, and buyers of paintings and books, as well as artists and authors.

The Lotos has never been a club of Bohemians or of professional artists or literary men, although its strength in these elements was well exemplified in 1874 by the publication of the handsome illustrated volume entitled "Lotos Leaves," edited by John Brougham and John Elderkin, which contained contributions by Whitelaw Reid, Mark Twain, John Hay, John Bell Boughton, Charles Taylor, D. R. Locke, (Nasby,) Brander Matthews, W.J. Florence, Gilbert Burling, John Lafarge, J.H. Dolph, George H. Story, and many other members.

Its by-laws have always contained a provision by which at least one-third, and subsequently one-half, of its members have been practical men of the world, business men, thereby securing a conservative element which has proved a guarantee of strength and permanence. This element of the club in all critical emergencies of its existence has assisted in carrying it successfully forward. Three years after its formation, in 1873, it was threatened with ruin by the defection of a considerable portion of its literary and artistic members., who incontinently went off and formed the Arcadian Club, which subsequently came to grief.

It was at this time that the Lotos elected Whitelaw Reid to its Presidency, who, with a Board of Officers composed of John Brougham, Vice president; Charles M. Miller, Charles Inslee Pardee, Thomas W. Knox, John Elderkin, John Bell Boughton, Charles F. Chickering, William Appleton, Jr., and Thomas E. Morris, took the management and fortunes of the club in charge. it would be impossible to write any account of the Lotos Club without acknowledging its great indebtedness to Mr. Whitelaw Reid, who continued, with slight interruption, to fill the office of president for Fourteen years, and to whose ability as a manager, urbanity, and accomplishments as a presiding officer its brilliant record during those years and its present solid prosperity are largely due.

During the period throughout which the club occupied the little house in Irving Place, next door to the old Academy of Music, its membership embraced nearly all the young and rising journalists, artists and actors in the city, and its little dinners and reunions and picture shows were among the brightest and most attractive gatherings in the town. In looking over the names of the members prominent at that time we notice those of James H. Beard, B.F. Rhinehart, Samuel Coleman, Charles G. Rosenberg, J.H. Dolph, Gilbert Burling, William Hart, and George H. Story among the artists; John Brougham, Mark Smith, Edwin Booth, Edwin Adams, William J. Florence, Lawrence Barrett, Daniel H. Harkins, Walter Montgomery, Harry Palmer, Charles Gaylor, and Augustin Daly among the actors and managers; P. S. Gilmore, Carl Rosa, Max Maretzek, Max Strakosch, Randoli, Wehill, Mills, Hopkins, Colby, Seguin, MacDonald, Mathison, Webber, and Laurence among the musicians; De Witt Van Buren, Robert B. Roosevelt, A.C. Wheeler,William Stuart, George W. Carleton, Montgomery Schuyler, Frederic A. Schwab, Col. John Hay, John B. Boughton, Bronson Howard, John Elderkin, Edwin F. De Leon, Bret Harte, Whitelaw Reid, George W. Howes, and Joaquin Miller among journalists and authors.

The Treasurer of the club, E.B. Harper, President of the Mutual Reserve Life Fund Association and Capt. William Henry White of the Old Guard, Vice president, complete the present officers of the club. The Directors are: Edward Moran, C. Harry Eaton, Henry W. Ranger, Walter P. Phillips, Dr. L.L. Seaman, Uriah Welch, F. L. Montague, Gen. C.H.T. Collis, and Chester S. Lord. Mr. Lord was the acting President of the Fellowcraft Club, which was recently incorporated with the Lotos, bringing large accessions of journalists and artists to the latter organization. The Lotos is now stronger in its journalistic and artistic elements than for a long period.

The new house of the Lotos Club is situated at 556 and 558 Fifth Avenue. The alterations contemplate an addition of 35 by 50 feet, two stories in height, to be used as billiard and dinning rooms and an art gallery.. A smoking and sitting room on the first floor, with five windows opening on Fifth Avenue, will be the lounging room for members. There will be a large cafe on the basement floor. On the second floor there will be card rooms and handsome private dining rooms. All above the second floor will be devoted to lodging rooms, reserved principally for non-resident members. The houses are each five stories in height, counting the basement, which is only a few feet below the level of the avenue. The location of the house, nearly opposite the Windsor Hotel, is one of the most central and accessible in the city.

As 80 per cent. of the members of New York clubs now reside above Thirty-fourth Street, the time is not far distant when every leading club in the city will be forced to remove nearer to Central Park. The Lotos has made a change in its by-laws, offering great inducements to members of clubs in other cities to become non-resident members.


Website: The History
Article Name: The Lotos Club's Success: An Organization Known Around The World 1892
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 The New York Times December 18, 1892 p. 17 (1 page)
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