Thursday Doors – The Cosmos Club

The Cosmos Club

One of the meetings I attended last week in Washington, D.C. was held at The Cosmos Club. I’m not saying that attending this meeting is the only way I could get inside, but, as they say on their website:

The Cosmos Club, founded in 1878, is a private social club for men and women distinguished in science, literature and the arts or public service. Members come from virtually every profession that has anything to do with scholarship, creative genius or intellectual distinction.

Among its members have been three Presidents, two Vice Presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 36 Nobel Prize winners, 61 Pulitzer Prize winners and 55 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

So, as soon as some respected authority takes notice of the creative genius and intellectual distinction that is No Facilities, I’m in. Either that or maybe a friend of a friend of a friend gets married there. Who knows.

The Cosmos Club, in many ways, is like every “men’s” club in America. It’s selective, probably expensive, opulent, quiet and secluded. Surely, this was a place where influential people men met, pondered, schemed, wheeled and dealed, ate drank and were entertained.

Last week, about 40 people from various points on the Information Management and Information Services map, got together to share stories, listen to influential speakers, ask questions, discuss possibilities, make plans, eat and drink. It was a great venue for such a meeting.

Several of those people were aware of my interest in history and doors. Throughout the meeting, people were asking me “did you get a picture of…” or telling me that a door that had been open was now partially closed. At one point, a friend came up and said: “If you go to the men’s room, make sure you take your camera. There’s a curved door that you’re going to want a photo of.”

This was a place where I got a slightly funny look when I stepped out to use the men’s room without wearing my jacket and where people had been ushered out of the lobby before making a phone call. I was pretty sure taking a camera into the men’s room would be frowned upon. However, I took my phone and feigned interest in some artwork until staff members passed and I could snap a picture of that curved door,

Thursday Doors is a forward thinking social blog-hop for men and women distinguished by their love of doors, and a passionate interest in history, literature and the arts. The experience is cultivated by the foremost doorthorian, Norm Frampton, of the Montreal Framptons. All members and guests should enter through the front door and peruse the doors on display in the main gallery. Those wishing to study additional doors should search for the azure amphibian and depress the button of your pointing device in his general area. The club staff will then usher you into the main gallery, where you can observe all the doors on display.

The Cosmos Club has been located in the historic Townsend House mansion on Embassy Row, near DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. since 1952. The house had originally been home to Mary Scott Townsend and her husband Richard (retired president of the Erie and Pittsburgh Railroad). Richard died shortly after construction on the house was completed in 1901. Mary died in 1931, and the Townsend’s daughter Mathilde Scott Townsend lived in the house, off and on, through the mid to late 1940s. The Cosmos Club purchased the property in 1950. The house is adjacent to the Indian Embassy building, a photo of which is included in the gallery, especially for my friend Sharukh Bamboat who publishes a wonderful India Travel blog.

Most of the photos were taken clandestinely, using my iPhone. I did some work in Lightroom to straighten, crop and improve the lighting. Click on any photo to begin a slide show. There is a stunning photo of the building in the National Historic Registry application, but it states that it is not to be reproduced. That photo is reproduced in the pictures accompanying this history website.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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97 Responses to Thursday Doors – The Cosmos Club

  1. Sherry Felix says:

    I enjoyed this post. I love the write-up about Norm’s Thursday doors. Did you make that up?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. dweezer19 says:

    👏🏻😏🤔😂😒Why do I suddenly feel as though I may now be followed by a dark unmarked car with black windows filled with seriously serious dudes inside, waiting for me to talk about what I have ‘seen’ here. Why do only the most special people (men) get to hang out in the loveliest buildings? Lol We in the ranks of the No Facilities audience appreciate your service in the interest of Thursday Doors. Happy Thursday Dan!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Norm 2.0 says:

    My first thought when looking at that first pic was that it had the look of an old-style men’s club from back in the day when (rich white) men were the only ones wise enough to do the world’s thinking :-/
    All the same it is a gorgeous building and it’s very cool that you got to see it up close. The curved ones are my faves.
    And as you now know, taking a camera into a public washroom, supposedly to photograph doors, is in fact frowned upon; they just don’t understand us Dan :-D

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Norm. The place did have that look to it. I’ve been to The Hartford Club, many times for events and meetings, but this place was way over the top. It’s funny what people will suggest once they know your a door-guy, but yeah, not the restroom.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a place! Hidden doors and all this week, Dan, well done. I love how you got round the ‘reproduction’ obstacle with that link. Interesting that Mrs. Townsend thought she would encounter evil if she lived a totally new house. It’s funny how childhood fears can still affect us later on in life. I blame Dr. Who for my anxiety over spiders. A giant one in one of the episodes I watched as a child, scared the life out of me. :o

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the history Jean (not surprised, but glad). It’s so funny that she “joined” the other house. It has since become part of the Cosmos Club, via a hallway that links the two buildings. It was also amazing that in the very first years of the 1900’s she was spending several hundred thousand dollars a year, entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the post and the Cosmos Club interiors are just breathtaking. I believe in one of your earlier posts you did put up the picture of the Indian Embassy. Also, thank you very much for including my name in the post. I usually don’t see my name mentioned anywhere so it is an honor to at least find it on your site in some of the posts. Also, since we are talking about D.C. I must tell you that these days I’m watching House of Cards which is a political drama set in D.C. I’m loving it, but more than anything else I love the timescape of D.C. that they have when the initial credits roll in. The music is equally good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Sharukh. I was pretty sure I had posted the Indian Embassy photos before, but I couldn’t find them. I was wondering if I only shared them in our group. Anyway, it was a good opportunity to mention you :)

      I love DC, but I try not to think about the “work” going on behind the scenes. It’s supposed to be where the peoples’ business is carried out, but it’s still a bunch of guys in a private room.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Battle of the Doors/#Thursdaydoors – Tropical Affair

  7. Good thing you took us along on this doorscursion because I’m sure I’d never get an invite inside. Handsome place, and I love the doors, but a little too elite for this woman. These type of places seem quite out of place in 2017. Glad you got to go inside because this is a beautiful building. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Judy. These places do seem out of place today. Actually, the fact that this was once a private residence also boggles my mind. I think the prospect of getting a look inside, helped draw a few people into the meeting. It was a little surreal sitting there amid the gilded molding. The prospects for a return visit are not good for this boy.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Susi Lovell says:

    What a meeting room! Gorgeous place – lucky you! Imagine coming home to all that gilt and detail. Surely one would go a little funny…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. Since it once was a private residence, I was trying to imagine being a child in those rooms. I’m guessing Mathilde wasn’t rolling toy trucks around the Persian rugs…

      Like

  9. bikerchick57 says:

    Wow, these are some fancy schmancy doors today, Dan. Did you feel privileged that you were able to mingle with your fellow geniuses at the Cosmos Club?

    I chuckle that your associates/friends know enough about your door thing that they encourage you to take photos in the mens’ bathroom. That’s pretty funny…plus we get curved doors! Thanks for sharing the inside of a place that I’ll never see (unless they decide to make it a womens’ retreat for the mathematically challenged).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Mary. Given that it took them many decades to let women join (or enter through the front door) I don’t see it becoming a women’s retreat. And that math thing ain’t helping you anymore than my jacketless-tieless shirt was helping me. The bottom (no pun intended) line is that the chairs were just as hard as all the less fancy meeting rooms I’ve ever been in. After 8 hours, that’s all yo notice.

      I loved those curved doors, so I am glad my friend scoped them out for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. loisajay says:

    Hangin’ with the hoity toity, eh, Dan? The curved doors and the library–wow. What a place this was.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Lois. Keep in mind that, before it was the Cosmos Club, it was someone’s house. But they often stayed in their other houses, the ones in other countries. Just like we do :-)

      Like

  11. WOW! I LOVE that your friends and colleagues are in on the doors thing. That’s just… I dunno what it is, but it sure makes me grin ear-to-ear.

    And now I can say that I am a virtual friend of a guy who sat in a room that was the exclusive domain of scholarship, creative genius, and intellectual distinction.

    You just made my day, Dan. You really did.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Jennie says:

    I loved this post, Dan. What a place! Elegance and history. Wouldn’t membership in the Cosmos be something! John Singer Sargent is one of my favorites. His gigantic portrait painting at the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH is one of his best. Small museum with all the art of the big ones- a real jewel.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wendy Brydge says:

    Well, there’s no question that this is a gorgeous building, doors and all. But I have to admit, there’s always been something sort of offensive about unpleasant, stuck-up people frequenting such nice surroundings. Oh, I’m sure not EVERY member of these ridiculous elitist clubs is a snooty prig, buuuuut I suspect the majority are. Now, I know that the whole point when you’re stinking rich and think you’re better than everyone else on the planet is to have nice things that most others can’t enjoy, and I know it’s been that way since nearly the beginning of time. But I’m just gonna say it: I for one think that if you’re this type of person, you shouldn’t be allowed in a nice place like this where you’re not going to appreciate the beauty for what it is — incredible design and art. I doubt the people who frequent these establishments give much regard to anything other than what it means for them to be there. I imagine them walking inside, giving it the once-over, and saying, “Hmm, I SUPPOSE it’ll do. Seems fancy enough. Aren’t I special?” Ugh. I’m not a bitter person and I don’t begrudge anyone anything. But it is a shame to know that amazing architecture and art is often only appreciated by the people who are told they aren’t good enough for it.

    Dan, I’m glad you got to enjoy this remarkable building, and then took photos to share with the rest of us “commoners” despite the snoot-ish atmosphere. A place like that deserves to be appreciated for WHAT it is, not WHO it represents, and you’ve done it justice here today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Wendy. I was glad to be able to see what this place looks like on the inside, as that’s always one of the questions I think about when I’m walking by, snapping photos of doors. I understand the history of some “Men’s Clubs” and the role they played in the advancement of commerce and politics in many cities. I also understand (and kina like) the fact that many are failing today, because there’s ever-so-slightly more transparency around those processes today.

      I might have been the only person in the building to study the curved doors, thinking about the tools that I have and wondering if I could make them, and wondering where I could get curved glass.

      Like

  14. Almost Iowa says:

    Gosh, your career takes you to amazing places. All my IT team ever got was doughnuts and we had to sneak them in because of civil service rules. :) Oh, to be honest, we did go to Denny’s once, separate checks though.

    Well done, Dan. Great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. joey says:

    Even the “boring” door is a mighty fine specimen. Hidden door and curved door, Ooh! Ahh! It’s a beautiful building. Fancy schmancy :P
    I loved the way you framed the #ThursdayDoors info this week. Clearly you’re elevating the entire blogosphere! :D

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks! I think Norm and Thursday Doors can hang in there with the best of them. This group has brought forth their fair share of fancy-schmancy. I was impressed with the glass doors that had curved glass panels in them. Actual curved doors, and a set that closes tight, seemed pretty remarkable. Of course, they’re the exit doors from the dining room, if you’re heading to the Men’s room, but for some of us, they are pure magic in woodworking.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I love this period of interior design, and the Townhouse exterior is lovely. I love the secret doors, all that gold gilding, and the Library!

    Absolutely brilliant intro to Norm and Thursday Doors!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Deborah. I should point out that the library was the mini-library. The actual library was across from our meeting room, but non-members were not allowed close enough to even lean in and snap a photo. Don’t ask me how I know that last bit. It’s a remarkable building. That it was once a private residence and that the owners didn’t live in it all year long, is a bit much to consider, but… The craftsmanship in that one room was just amazing. I can only imagine what some of the members-only rooms look like.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Oh to live in this type of luxury. Wow!!! LOVED this post, Dan! I think I may have had some sort of mixup where to be delivered as a child because I know I should have been royalty. And this period of design just pulls at me just wanting to be there. *sigh* Thanks for giving me a nice dream while it lasted. LOL 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Joanne Sisco says:

    Obviously the people responsible for membership at the Cosmos Club simply don’t know you like we know you. It is without question that you should be granted membership for your creative genius. Just getting all these great photos clandestinely with a iphone pretty well seals it :)

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Dan, you’re James Bond of Thursday Doors and what a great spying job you did! If they were having some beers, you’d definitely be in like Flynn!!

    janet

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Sandi Staton says:

    Beautiful doors!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. jesh stg says:

    The Cosmos club lives up to it’s name – wealthy!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. The Cosmos Club is a beautiful place, Dan. You got some nice shots. I’ll bet the meeting went well too.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. JT Twissel says:

    Thanks Dan – your pics are about as close as I’ll get to a exclusive men’s club in DC!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. What an interesting story you have to tell! Thanks for all the photos- it really makes the story come alive!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. reocochran says:

    I liked the Cosmos Club! The outside is pretentious and reminds me of the French Provincial style.
    Inside looking out the front door was a great way to see the stained glass with what could be black rod-iron framing. I also feel it could be wooden with black paint upon it. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Liu Min says:

    Wow curved doors not just one curved door! Beautiful designed parts! I have never seen a door that is not straight. Even there is a library included among them! It looks like a really fun place to meet up!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. marianallen says:

    What a wealth of doors! I loved the curved ones and the little closet one best. The hidden ones were cool, too. I had to find the hinges before I could spot them.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. LOL… Dan, I can just imagine you sneaking photos at the Cosmos Club!
    It really is a beautiful building. Plus, it’s ever so slightly creepy looking from outside. I imagine spiritualists of the olden days having seances there. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Aunt Beulah says:

    So at last, thanks to you, I’ve been inside an exclusive men’s club, the thought of such a gathering of wealth, testosterone and exclusivity makes my skin crawl. But the illicit photos were nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Spectacular location indeed, even if you had to work. My favourite photo is the one before last, of the window-door. And I’m glad your coworkers know about your door habit. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks! I love that door, too. I normally prefer my camera to my phone, but the phone draws way less attention, unless you make a call, which, in this place, is not allowed in public spaces. Actually, I like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Great doors! I have a category of “doors” in Pinterest, just for your doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Great pictures…love the architecture…not so fond of the aristocracy of Men’s Club…visited one in Chicago….but again love the architecture and great doors…

    Liked by 1 person

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