History

history

established 1966
  • George Town Club History
  • club history

    The George Town Club is one of the most elegant in-town clubs in the United States.  The chic but warm atmosphere provides a retreat for its members, with fine cuisine, privacy and gracious service in a setting that fosters relaxed personal enjoyment. 

    The Club was formed in 1966 for the purpose of bringing together leaders who had an impact on the U.S. and the world through their work in various business, professional, civic, social, academic and political endeavors.   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.  At Suter’s Tavern, President George Washington, surveyor Andrew Ellicott and Capital architect Major Pierre L’Enfant met at least three times to plan the federal city that would become Washington, District of Columbia.  When plans were complete, the first plats for the city were auctioned off at the Tavern.
    When the Club was formed in 1966, the founders extensively renovated the run-down historic building.  They added the brick entryway, excavated the lower level, imported European paneling, chandeliers, furniture and artwork, and rescued the wrought iron work by Samuel Yellin from the demolition of the original Morgan Guaranty Trust Bank in New York City.  Over time, two adjacent brick townhouses were incorporated into the growing Club and were 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 is 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 is a bright and lively change from the more formal areas of the Club.

    Main Dining Room

    The Dining Room is upstairs on the second floor.  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 luncheons, dinners, meetings and other functions:  The Georgian Room, the Founders Room, and a small dining room.
     

    Founders' Room

    The Founders’ Room offers Members an intimate setting for private dining under soft natural light filtered through a skylight draped with a delicate chiffon rosette. 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 recently 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 collectively are 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.
     

    Grill

    More casual dining is available in the Grill, just off the Library, but with its own entrance from the street. Besides casual dining at lunch and dinner, this intimate room is ideal for cocktails, late light fare and dancing. Between the seated mirrored bar, to the disco-style dance floor, members and their guests can relax at small tables surrounded by comfortable chairs, settees and understated art. Always dimly lighted, the Grill is the perfect venue for cozy gatherings or theme 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