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Penn Club of New York: NYC Landmark Designation
April 6, 2010, Volume 56, No. 28


Penn Club 1904

The historic Penn Club of New York building, located along “clubhouse row,” on 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, has become an official New York City landmark. This designation means that the city has officially recognized that the building holds historical, cultural, or architectural value to the history of Manhattan. In addition, the city allows for the University of Pennsylvania, as the owner, to apply for grants in order to maintain or repair the façade of the building. The Penn Club is in the company of the Harvard Club of New York, the University Club of New York and the New York Yacht Club, all of which have received this prestigious designation.

This Beaux-Arts style building was constructed in 1900-01 by Marc Eidlitz & Son and designed by Evarts Tracy & Egerton Swartwout. In close proximity to the Harvard Club of New York, Yale Club, Cornell Club, Princeton Club and New York Yacht Club, The Penn Club was among the first high-rise buildings in the city. This celebrated building is home to an unusual history having formerly been The Yale Club (1900-15), Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (1916-25), the Army & Navy Club of America (1926-33), a government Army headquarters (1943-71), and Touro College (1971-88).

In 1989, the University of Pennsylvania acquired the building with the purpose of creating a private social club exclusive for Penn alumni, students, faculty and staff. 

After several years of construction, The Penn Club opened its doors in 1994 (Almanac September 6, 1994). Although the building is owned by the University, the separate not-for-profit club with its elected board of directors governs the Club and is responsible for maintaining the building for Penn. The 13-story clubhouse has five floors of overnight rooms, two restaurants, two bars, a private gym, four floors of meeting and banquet spaces, a business center, and a 24-hour library. The old-world feeling is reflected in the deep mahogany walls, rich red and blue décor and a spiral, marble staircase. The club organizes social and educational events to promote personal and professional networking. Members also often have the opportunity to mingle with the neighboring private clubs and they have access to several hundred private reciprocal clubs located in most major cities around the world. Membership is exclusive to University of Pennsylvania alumni (students who have attended a minimum of one year), immediate family (parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents), current full-time undergraduate and graduate students aged 21 and over, and full-time faculty and staff of the University and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). There are currently over 5,000 members that create a dynamic and vibrant club environment.

Above: The building, seen at the top left in 1904, formally opened its door in May of 1901, at a total cost of $375,000. The design was praised in the New York Times, and in the architectural press, receiving coverage from American Architect & Building News, The Architectural Review, Architect’s and Builder’s Magazine and The Brickbuilder. After Penn acquired the property for $15 million in 1989, the building underwent a renovation from 1992-1994. The renovation added a three-story rooftop addition by [David P.] Halpern Architects. The firm received a Preservation Award for their work by the Municipal Art Society of New York the following year. The addition (right), set back from the rest of the building, has a curved central section decorated with the University of Pennsylvania shield.



Almanac - April 6, 2010, Volume 56, No. 28