History

history

established 1966
  • George Town Club History
  • club history

    The George Town Club is one of the most elegant dining clubs in the United States, patterned after the finest in London and Paris.  The Club was established in 1966 for the purpose of bringing together leaders who had an impact on the United States, and the world, through their work in various business, professional, civic, social and political milieus.  Since then, The George Town Club has been a focal point for entertaining prominent Washingtonians, diplomats, socialites, and leaders in business, government, and academia.  It offers a warm, elegant, private retreat to its members, with fine cuisine, gracious service, and a setting that fosters relaxed, personal enjoyment.

    The Club occupies one of the few remaining 18th Century frame buildings in the historic port district of Georgetown, and is believed to have been John Suter’s Tavern, circa 1783.  In that era, inns and taverns were the focal points of community life.  In addition to offering food, drink and lodging, they were true “public houses” where political debate, civic meetings and business deals were common.  It was at Suter’s Tavern where President George Washington, surveyor Andrew Ellicott, and then Architect of the Capitol, Major Pierre L’Enfant, met at least three times to plan the federal city that would become Washington, DC.  When plans were completed, the first plats for the city were auctioned off at the Tavern.

    After the Club opened in 1966, the founders extensively renovated the run-down historic building, added the brick entryway, excavated the lower level, imported European paneling, chandeliers, furniture, artwork, and rescued the wrought iron work by Samuel Yellin from demolition at the original Morgan Guaranty Trust Bank in New York City.  Over time, the two brick townhouses adjacent to the original structure were purchased and incorporated into the Club, and finished with the same care and detail as the original rooms. 

     

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    Living Room

    Entering the Club through the main entrance under the royal blue awning, one is immediately struck by the oak carved paneling and arched doors in the Foyer, which are from a small estate south of Paris; carvings include bas-relief portraits of heirs to the French throne at that time.

    The Living Room walls are of English Tudor walnut paneling produced by craftsmen of the royal warrant.  The same paneling is found at Hampton Court, begun by Cardinal Wolsey and finished by Henry VIII.  In 2013, the Living Room décor was updated with light neutral furnishings, elegant pillows and sisal floor covering to offset the dramatic dark wood walls.  The large bar with elaborate carvings is a centerpiece of the room.  Multiple seating areas of sofa and chair groupings provide areas for members and their guests to sit for cocktails and conversation. 


     

    Library

    The spacious but cozy Library has satin-finished mahogany paneled walls, a fireplace, and a large bay window with original velvet drapes and gilded cornice.  The Library was also updated in 2013, with linen upholstery on the upper walls, sisal floor covering, antiqued brass wall-mounted lights and periodical racks made in London, and a brown mohair tufted banquette.  Newspapers and magazines are available for members’ reading pleasure.

    Both the Living Room and the Library showcase rotating artwork on loan from local galleries.

    Garden Room

    The airy Garden Room w styled as long a classic 19th Century reception room with daylight pouring in through leaded glass clerestory windows and nighttime illumination from a 4-foor crystal chandelier and sconces. The outdoor ambience of the room was a bright and lively change from the more formal areas of the Club.

    Renovated in 2017, beautiful additions to the Garden room include floor to ceiling windows and drapery, stunning mirrored wall panels, and a stone fireplace.

    Main Dining Room

    The Main Dining Room is upstairs on the second floor of the Club.  The extraordinary carved oak paneling was created in the style of Robert Adams who was England’s premier architect in the late 1700s, about the same time as construction of the main Club building.  It features figures found in artifacts discovered in Pompeii, including mythical animals, cherubs, satyrs, serpents, horses and mermaids.  At either end of the sideboard are fishing vessel figureheads, framing a leaded glass demi-lune that was originally a feature of J.P. Morgan’s private office.

    In addition to the formal Dining Room, the Club’s second floor has three other rooms that provide venues for meetings and private functions:  The Georgian Room, The Founders' Room, and The Small Dining Room.

     

    Founders' Room

    The Founders’ Room offers members an intimate setting for private dining under soft natural light filtered through a skylight. At the end of the long hall, past the intimate Small Dining Room, is the formal Georgian Dining Room, designed with the symmetry that was so important in that period. This classic room, warmed by sunlight during the day and the fireplace at night, also houses the Club’s collection of fine Korean celadon ware. During World War II, this room was part of a rooming house for a few of the thousands of young woman who came to Washington to help with the war effort.

    Club Room

    The lower level of the Club includes a large room (formerly called the Williamsburg room because of its colonial-style orange and brass décor) which was updated with freshly painted light walls and coffered ceiling, dark brown grasscloth wallpaper, and a refinished wood floor.

    Wine Cellar

    Also on the lower level are three connected rooms that are collectively called The Wine Cellar.  The walls are paneled in oak of the same design as the Windsor Room in London’s historic Connaught Hotel.  The iron gates enclosing the wine bins and the leaded glass door are from the J.P. Morgan collection.  The slate floor is from quarries once owned by Thomas Jefferson near his estate Monticello.  The wine cellar rooms are popular for small private parties in a unique setting.

    In the summer of 2017, The Wine Cellar was renovated to include the Club's first temperature controlled, individual wine lockers, purchased by members of the Club.  The wine lockers were celebrated by Patron's donating to the project in anticipation of the wine locker program's inaugural year.

     

    Grill

    The Club's most popular gathering place sets the tone for more casual dining, located just off the Library, but with its own entrance from the street.  The Grill is where regulars eat lunch and dinner during the week, and boasts a vibrant scene at night and on weekends.  Members meet members and friends at the bar for cocktails, late light fare, or to catch a sports game.  Always dimly lighted, the Grill is the perfect venue for cozy gatherings or themed evenings featuring live music.

    The George Town Club’s true distinction is its traditions of fine dining and excellent service all in an elegant setting. It is a place where people with similar interests and tastes converge with the enduring traditions of style and grace.

  • George Town Club History