The National Arts Club, founded in 1898 and originally located on 34th Street, was conceived as a gathering place for artists as well as art lovers and patrons.
National Arts Club members included such luminaries as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the foremost American sculptor of the late 19th century; Daniel Chester French, best known for his design of the Lincoln Memorial; Paul Manship, a major force in the Art Deco movement and whose iconic Prometheus still stands at Rockefeller Center; the conductor Walter Damrosch, who was instrumental in the building of Carnegie Hall; Alfred Stieglitz, the photographer credited with elevating photography to the status of an art form; and renown American architects Stanford White and George B. Post—among others. And not too many clubs can claim the membership of three U.S. Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Dwight D. Eisenhower!
To its honor, the National Arts Club is one of the few private clubs that has admitted women as full and equal members since its inception. But to its shame, the club’s president of 25 years was sued by New York State in 2012 for misusing the club’s funds and property for his own benefit.
The Club moved into the beautiful Samuel Tilden Mansion at #14-15 Gramercy Park in 1906. The original brownstones that had perfectly matched the style of other homes along the park were redesigned by Tilden, who hired architect Calvert Vaux—best known as the co-designer of Central Park—to create a High Victorian Gothic masterpiece.
The gorgeous interior of the National Arts Club can be seen on the silver screen in many productions such as Boardwalk Empire, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Manhattan Murder Mystery, among others. The Club’s interior was used as a stand-in for The “Beauforts’ house” in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence.