Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Westmoreland Club, 1916.

New acquisition for Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries.
"Constitution, By-Laws, and House Rules for the Westmoreland Club, 1916."

In late 19th century Richmond there were numerous private men’s clubs. The Westmoreland Club was considered one of the most exclusive in the city. Founded in 1877 by former officers of the Confederacy, the club was named after the county where Gen. Robert E. Lee was born. Their clubhouse was the former James Lyons House, 601 E. Grace Street, built 1837-1838 in the Greek Revival style. 

In a Richmond newspaper account of the Westmoreland Club's history it was said that “probably more State legislation has been launched there then in any other building in Virginia, not even excepting the hotels of Richmond.” Their clubhouse was described as a place where debutantes and their escorts gathered for balls and parties and where large portraits of Confederate leaders filled the walls.

The organization disbanded around the time the building was demolished in 1937 to make way for what was a planned expansion of the Richmond Garage located on E. Franklin Street. Years later a branch of the Bank of America stood at this spot - just opposite of the Carpenter Center, formerly the Loew's Movie Theater.

Image of the the Westmoreland Club, 601 E. Grace Street,
corner of E. Grace and 6th Street,  from
"Constitution, By-Laws, and House Rules for the Westmoreland Club, 1916."

And here's how that corner looks today:
(click for larger view)

That's right, the Library in the Westmoreland Club,
one of several rare interior views of the building published in
"Constitution, By-Laws, and House Rules for the Westmoreland Club, 1916."

- Ray B.


James said...

Do we know where the books from the Westmoreland Club Library were sent?

T. Tyler Potterfield -- Ray Bonis--Catherine L. Easterling--Selden Richardson said...

I don't - there were lots of such small libraries around Richmond. Grace Arents started an early library in Oregon Hill and I'd like to know where those books are too.

dmcgrann said...

My understanding is that at disbanding, the membership of the Westmoreland Club was merged into the membership of the Commonwealth Club. That may be where the books went.

There are pieces of the Westmoreland Club's commercial china service made by Shenango China floating around. It features the Lee crest of a squirrel sitting in a crown and appearing to be munching on ivy.