The Art Club of Philadelphia

Incorporated on January 18, 1887, the Art Club of Philadelphia was formed “to advance the knowledge and love of the Fine Arts, through the exhibition of works of Art, the acquisition of books and papers for the purpose of forming an Art Library, lectures upon subjects pertaining to Art, receptions given to men or women distinguished in Art, Literature, Science or Politics, and by other kindred means, and to promote social intercourse among its members.”1

Created as both a social club and an organization for the support of the arts, the Art Club needed a club house that would help meet the objectives laid out in its charter. Members of the club selected a location on Broad Street near the intersection of Broad and Chancellor Streets. The building at that location had previously served as a boarding house before being purchased by J.B. Lippincott and then by the Art Club for $100,000. Architect Frank Miles Day was selected to design the building, his first major commission as an architect. He would continue to work in Philadelphia and serve as president of the American Institute of Architects in 1906 and 1907.2 He also lectured on architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University before his death in 1918.3

The building required extensive renovations to meet the needs of the Art Club, including tearing down the back building to expand the space. The building and renovations were completed in 1889 and the Art Club held its first meeting in the new clubhouse on December 7, 1889. The building featured galleries for public exhibitions, parlors, a library, and a gentleman’s café and billiard room as well as private club spaces including a members’ dining room and bedrooms and bathrooms reserved for the use of club members. Servants’ quarters were located on the fifth floor. An article in the New York Times on December 8, 1889 noted that the entire building was “wired for electric lighting and also arranged for gas service.” The article also notes the beautiful furnishings and design of the building and describes it as “one of the most beautiful and artistic clubhouses to be found in the country.”4

The Art Club’s former building on Broad Street was demolished in 1976-1976.5


[1] Art Club of Philadelphia, “Charter, constitution and by-laws of the Art Club of Philadelphia with house rules, report of the Board of Directors and list of members.” Philadelphia: Patterson & White Co., 1917, p. 15.

[2] The New York Times. “Frank Miles Day Dead.” June 18, 1918.

[3] Frank Miles Day Collection, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.

[4] The New York Times. “Philadelphia’s Art Club – First Meeting in its New Quarters.” December 8, 1889.

[5] “Philadelphia Art Club 220 S. Broad Street.” Historic American Building Survey HABS No. PA-1529.