Historic UWS Club for Women Artists Nominated For National Register of Historic Places

The 340 West 85th Street building that used to house the women’s club. Credit: Google Maps.

By Gus Saltonstall

An Upper West Side building that used to house a women’s club was nominated last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul for inclusion on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The building at 340 West 85th Street, between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue, was one of 15 addresses nominated by Hochul across the state. Many of the nominations highlighted women’s contributions to New York in honor of Women’s History Month, which is celebrated in March.

“The women’s club movement of the late 19th century and early 20th century unfolded alongside the suffrage movement,” wrote Ms. magazine in March, 2018. “Women’s clubs were revolutionary destinations where women could work, gather, and learn alongside one another — and, in some cases, plot their next moves in the fight for equality.”

The women’s club on West 85th Street was named the Three Arts Club, and was the first residential club in the country for young women studying and working in the “three arts”: music, drama, and painting.

It was founded in 1903 by Deaconess Jane Harris Hall, and grew from a group of five women living in an apartment on West 56th Street, to a bustling organization that housed over 150 women in its clubhouse building on West 85th Street.

The club actually had multiple Upper West Side addresses before landing at West 85th Street, including 338, 340 and 536 West End Avenue, according to Patch.

Designed by architect George Bruno de Gersdorff, the clubhouse building at West 85th Street was completed in 1927. The building came equipped with a ground-floor auditorium, a rooftop painting studio, occupancy bedrooms for women, a library, a dining room, and communal bathrooms.

“The Three Arts Club in New York City inspired at least ten similar organizations throughout the county, including clubs in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as an international location in London,” reads a blurb from the governor’s office. “While the club closed in 1952, its clubhouse building remains remarkably intact.”

The Upper West Side building has continued to serve the community.

The 340 West 85th Street address went on to become the Brandon Residence for Women in 1953, a 124-room boarding house for professionals and students. In 2017, Volunteers of America sold the nine-story building to the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, which provides 125 formerly homeless seniors with single-room-occupancy, supportive housing at the site.

Landmark West also provides more of a breakdown on the significant architectural elements of the building, which you can check out — HERE.

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