The University Club

I don’t usually talk about my job because it would probably bore you to tears, but I have to tell you about my day yesterday.  I attended our Board of Trustees meeting in New York at the very elite University Club.  The Club is located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 54th Streets, which for those of you who are not familiar with New York, is in what I call the va-va-voom neighborhood.  It is right across the street from Bergdorf and just down from Tiffany & Co.  Va-va-voom.

I tried to find pictures online to show you of the Club because it is one of those places you have to see to believe, but as cameras are not allowed inside the building, pictures are a little scarce.  Here’s what I did find:

The University Club

The University Club

The Club is so famous that Norman Rockwell used it in one of his pieces

The Club is so famous that Norman Rockwell used it in one of his pieces

I don't know who this guy is, but this is a picture of the inside library.  The entire place looked like this.

The Library (I don't know who this guy is!)

The Club is a gentlemen’s club in New York founded in 1861.  And though it now allows women to join, when you walk in it is like stepping back in time.  I felt like I was in the Great Gatsby.  You walk up these marble stairs where you are greeted by a host who directs you to wherever or whatever you might need.  When you step into the entrance hall, you are standing in a completely marble room.  Giant columns (6 I think) are along the sides, and antique tables and chairs are set in small clusters around the area if you would like to sit.  The only indication that you are NOT in Gatsby’s house are the small sterling silver plaques on each table which state, “The use of cell phones in the Club is not permitted.”

That’s right – no cell phones can be used anywhere in the club.  There are 3 or 4 small, ornate, wooden telephone style private booths that you can talk on your cell phone in, but otherwise there are no cell phones.  You can’t even check your Blackberry.  There are also no jeans allowed.  Men must be dressed in a suit and tie and women in comparable clothing everywhere in the club at all times.

Once I got the run down on the house rules, I left the entrance hall and wandered into a room I can only describe as the Quiet Room because there were sterling silver engraved signs everywhere that read “Quiet, Please.”  This could quite possibly have been the most beautiful room I’ve ever seen.  I tried not to stand there gaping in front of all these suits, but I was in complete awe.  There was detailed wood paneling on all the walls, and two enormous fire places at each end of the room.  The ceiling was a combination of carved wood, beautiful paintings, and gold etching.  The furniture in the room was incredibly large high backed chairs and wooden tables.  The windows were framed by heavy tapestry curtains and the view looked out onto 5th Avenue.

Off the other side of the entrance hall was a little more “casual” sitting area with large cozy arm chairs gathered in small groups around small wooden tables.

I stayed the night in one of their guest rooms.  It was like being in someone’s home.  My bed was turned down (with chocolates, of course) and there was a letter on my bed hand-written by the consierge welcoming me to the Club for the first time and detailing my schedule while I was in town.

We had a large lunch party in the dining room, which was no less elegant.  But had a strange rule that you couldn’t bring a briefcase or paper into the room.  One of the Board members I was eating with said that 20 years ago when he had his first lunch at the Club, he made the mistake of handing a piece of paper across to his colleague.  A waiter came over and took his paper away and informed him that “no business was to be done while at lunch.”  Craziness.

In short, I spent my day yesterday in complete awe.  While I don’t think I would like to be there often, it was definitely one of those New York moments that makes you feel pretty cool.

(Just ignore the fact that I was wheeling around hot pink luggage while I was there, and I could almost have passed as a member!)


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One response to “The University Club

  1. Wow. I want to be there.