SAHARA Highlights: Clubs

by Jacqueline Spafford and Mark Hinchman, SAHARA Co-Editors | Jul 20, 2022

Clubs are formed to provide a formalization of shared interests, goals or values. These can be inclusive or exclusive, or both—accommodating common allegiances and pursuits, while excluding based on race, gender, income, education, religion, political affiliation, and other factors. The SAHARA collection contains photographs of clubs of every type. There are sports and recreation clubs, such as the Ausable Club, and clubs whose members have a very specific common interest, such as the Black Eagles Motorcycle Club. There are clubs formed to serve as a welcoming space for a subset of a community, such as the Italian Club of Tampa or the Autocrat Social Club. There are fraternal orders with strict membership boundaries, such as the Masonic Lodge. Some clubs are gendered spaces, such as Boodle’s Club. Clubs are formed to offer a communal space for workers, members of the military, students, or travelers. Thank you, as always, to our contributors, who document such a wide variety of locations and subjects.

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B.C. Bonfoey and Leo Elliott, the Italian Club of Tampa (L'Unione Italiana), Tampa, FL, 1918. Incorporating Italian, Spanish and Greek architectural elements, the club was founded by and for the new community of Italian immigrants. It has been used for sports and recreation, meetings, social events, and served as a mutual aid society. Photograph by Peter Clericuzio, 2013.

white building with wooden siding
Washington Lodge No. 3, F. & A.M., Bristol, RI, ca 1800. The second oldest continuously used Masonic Temple in North America, it was granted a charter in 1796. Photograph by Dell Upton, 1975.

concrete building with cars parked in front
Wiesław Lisowski, YMCA Łódź, Łódź, Poland, 1932–35; rebuilt 1949. Known in Poland as the Christian Young People Association, the American YMCA came to Poland during World War I. In 1923 the Polish YMCA was founded. Photograph by Zachary Violette, 2019.

white and black building with cars parked on street
John Crunden, Boodle’s Club, London, UK, 1776. The club was founded in 1762 as a social and non-political gentlemen’s club, and counted Adam Smith, Winston Churchill and Ian Fleming among its members. It is the second oldest club in the world. Photograph by George Bishop Tatum.

pink concrete and glass block building
Il’ya Golosov, “Zuev” Workers Club/House of Culture, Moscow, Russia, 1927–1929. This example of Russian Constructivism incorporates a hinge-like glass cylinder at the corner. Photograph by Evangelos Kotsioris, 2013.

four-story building with wraparound porch
Wilson Brothers & Company, the Ausable Club, Essex, NY, 1890. This clubhouse for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve was built in four months to replace an earlier structure that was destroyed by fire, and features angled window bays to accommodate guests’ views. Photograph by Richard Longstreth.

brick building with windows along roofline
H. Olivier, the Autocrat Social Club, New Orleans, LA, founded 1914; built 1924; expanded 1954. One of New Orleans’ elite black social clubs. Photograph by Dell Upton, 2012.

four-story building at corner of intersection
Josephine Wright Chapman, Tuckerman Hall, Worcester, MA, 1902 (renovated 1999). Built for the Worcester Women’s Club, now a performance space. Photograph by Dell Upton, 2016.

angular building with lots of windows and gabled roof
M.C. Vodhyakara Varavarn and Lert Urasyananda, Chulalongkorn University, the Student Union/Student Club, 1964. University student centers typically contain many separate clubs, defined by discipline, hobby, ethnic background, and other parameters. Photograph by Mark Hinchman, 2016.

white building with chimney
The East 6th Street USO Club, Hattiesburgh, MS, 1942. Built as a segregated USO club for black soldiers at nearby Camp Shelby; now the African American Military History Museum.  Photograph by Dell Upton, 2012.

building with metal panels and motorcycles and VW bus
Black Eagles Motorcycle Club, Amman, Jordan, ca. 1990–2000. The BEMC was officially formed in Dubai in 2004 as the center to international chapters. Photograph by Dell Upton, 2016.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

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