The Cosmos Club of Washington, DC
The Cosmos Club is a private social club, organized in 1878 by men distinguished in science, literature and the arts for "the advancement of its members in the fields of science, literature and art and their mutual benefit of social intercourse." At the time, there were other societies, but they tended toward specialization and formal meetings. The vision for the Cosmos Club was as a center of good fellowship, a club that embraced the sciences and the arts, where members could meet socially and exchange ideas, where vitality would grow from the mixture of disciplines, and a library would provide a refuge for thought and learning.
Since its founding, the Club has elected as members individuals in virtually every profession that has anything to do with scholarship, creative genius or intellectual distinction.
Among its members, over the years, have been three Presidents, two Vice Presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 32 Nobel Prize winners, 56 Pulitzer Prize winners and 45 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. To be considered for membership in the Cosmos Club, an individual must be a person of "distinction, character and sociability" who
- has done meritorious original work in science, literature, or the arts,
- though not professionally occupied in science, literature or the arts, is well known to be cultivated in some field thereof, or
- is recognized as distinguished in a learned profession or in public service.
The Cosmos Club was born on November 16, 1878 in the home of John Wesley Powell, one of the most distinguished geologists of his time. (Initiation fee was set at $25 and annual dues at $20.)
Its first Clubhouse was located on the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. on what is now the site of the Washington Hotel.
From 1886 to 1952, the Club occupied several historic residences along the northeast corner of Lafayette square, including the Dolley Madison House, on Lafayette Square in sight of the White House.
|The Cosmos Club in Oliver Perry Hay's time at the Dolley Madison House|
Since 1952, the Cosmos Clubhouse has been located at 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, an imposing historic structure. For information on the current club, visit their website at http://www.cosmos-club.org/.