Samuel Clemens was a member. Woodrow Wilson lectured there. There have been exhibits of Degas, Monet and Renoir. The Lotos Club, dubbed “The Ace of Clubs” by member by Clemens, better know by his pen name Mark Twain, was founded in 1870 as a private members club for journalists, scholars, musicians, painters and sculptors, art collectors and enthusiasts, historians and novelists.
Located on New York’s Upper East Side in a historic townhouse, it is known for its annual State Dinners, whose honorees have included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Andrew Carnegie, Amelia Earhart, Leonard Bernstein and Walter Cronkite.
The Club’s name and motto are inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Lotos Eaters.” The atmosphere of the club is meant to afford the environment for creative musings and stimulating conversations as in “… a land / In which it seemed always afternoon”.
A block from Central Park the French Renaissance townhouse was constructed in 1900 and designed by Richard Howland Hunt. Each room at the Lotos Club is restored to the splendor of an earlier time, and rivals the interiors of Manhattan’s most renowned turn-of-the-century landmarks. Members and guests enjoy the Lotos Club’s grill room, its walls adorned with paintings and prints; the elegant, ivory white ballroom; and the tall-ceilinged, wood-paneled library. Other gathering and dining spots include the Tennyson Room, The Wedgwood Suite and the Directors’ Room.
My recent dining experience at The Grill (top picture) found an impressive menu of American cuisine, including a cold lobster salad, nice steaks, duck, and well-made martinis. The Club is available for special events, private parties and wedding receptions. There are overnight accommodations with 24-hour staff.
Members get reciprocal benefits at over 50 other clubs worldwide, including The Algonquin Club in Boston; The Chicago Club, The University Club and Urban League in Chicago; The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth; The Pacific Club in Honolulu; The California Club in Los Angeles; University Club and Concordia-Argonaut in San Francisco; The Rainier Club in Seattle; The Cosmos Club and The University Club in Washington D.C.; plus International Club in Berlin; Kildare Street and University Club in Dublin; Il Circolo Dell’Unione in Florence; The Hong Kong Club; The Athenaeum, The East India Club, The Garrick Club, The Landsdowne, The Reform Club, and The Savile Club, all in London, and clubs in Milan, Montreal, Cercle de L’Union Interalliee in Paris, Quebec, Rome, Stockholm, Sydney and Toronto.
In addition to Clemens, famous members included Civil War correspondent Thomas W. Knox, New York Mayor A. Oakey Hall, and U.S. President and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Howard Taft. Past Club presidents range from Whitelaw Reid, editor of The New York Tribune, to longtime Columbia University President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nicholas Murray Butler.