More About the Clubhouse
The architecture of the Clubhouse reflects a more contemporary approach than the traditional styles for which the architect, Edmund Gilchrist, was primarily known. Although retaining some aspects of classical design, particularly the overall proportions and the central door of the façade, the patterning of the brickwork and the use of metal-framed windows give the exterior a decidedly 20th century appearance. Inside the building, the curving walls, doorway arches, and sculpted ceilings are distinctly Moderne features.
Gilchrist recommended Jules Bouy to complement his architectural approach. One area where the interior and exterior converged was in the decision, prompted by Bouy, to have windows on one side of the building only. This was not immediately accepted by the Club, especially after the members overseeing the project had with some difficulty negotiated an agreement to allow the building to overlook the garden of the neighboring Print Club.
Bouy designed the original furniture, furnishings and light fixtures, most of which remains in use at the Club; especially notable are the upholstered chairs in the salon, recovered in the intervening years, and the elegant central table and the red chairs in the dining room, now restored to their original color after having been painted white. Small touches reflect the designer’s practical sensibility: an under-seat shelf for ladies’ handbags on the dining chairs, and pull-out trays for glasses or ashtrays at the corners of a card table in the third floor parlor. His early interest in metalwork was expressed in the wall sconces and original floor lamps.
The Steinway grand piano, the gift of Charter Member Mary Louise Curtis Bok, was also designed by Bouy; once played by George Gershwin, it remains a focal point of the salon. Its mix of exotic woods were chosen to harmonize with the hooked rug in tones of brown and beige and yellow that he designed for the room: the frame is satinwood with ebony trim, the top, white holly with a rock maple interior, and the legs are French walnut. The piano was rebuilt and the cracked soundboard replaced by Steinway & Sons in 1986.
The interior of the Clubhouse has undergone significant alterations and improvements, beginning as early as 1939 when one of the third floor bedrooms was converted to what is now a parlor. Other cosmetic and structural changes to the kitchen, dining room and basement occurred in the 1950s, and new furniture in the foyer and salon was installed in 1982. Despite these changes, the Art Deco motif of the original design has been meticulously preserved.