The Century Association
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The Century Association is a New York City club with a distinguished history. It evolved out an an earlier organization – the Sketch Club, founded in 1829 by editor and poet William Cullen Bryant and his friends – and was established in 1847 by Bryant and others as a club to promote interest in the fine arts and literature which was open to "Artists, Literary Men, Scientists, Physicians, Officers of the Army and Navy, members of the Bench and Bar, Engineers, Clergymen, Representatives of the Press, Merchants and men of leisure." The Century Association was originally intended to have a limited membership of 100 men. Its early members included Bryant, painters Asher Durand, Winslow Homer, and John Frederick Kensett, architect Stanford White, judge Charles Patrick Daly , author Lewis Gaylord Clark and architect Calvert Vaux, the co-creator with Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park. However, by the middle 1850s, the membership primarily consisted of merchants, businessmen, lawyers and doctors.
The Century possesses a notable art collection, including important works by Asher Durand, Thomas Cole, Thomas Doughty, and other Hudson River School painters. It is also an important venue for the exhibition of contemporary art created by its members.
In 1989, after a strenuous legal battle, the club began admitting women members.
The club's first permanent headquarters was located at 111 East 15th Street, between Union Square East and Irving Place, and was built in 1869 as designed by Charles Gambrill and Henry Hobson Richardson, both members of the club. The clubhouse was one of Richardson's early works, before he became one of the most influential architects in the United States, and he joined the team after Gambrill, who was later his partner, had already begun the design: Richardson added the mansard roof. The building is the oldest surviving clubhouse in Manhattan, and has been a New York City landmark since 1993. The exterior was restored and the interior converted in 1996-1997 by Beyer Blinder Belle, and in recent years it has been the Century Center for the Performing Arts, which had a 248-seat theatre, a ballroom and a studio. As of 2006 it is the New York production facility for Trinity Broadcasting Network, a religious television company.
The Century Association 43rd Street clubhouse
The Century Association, which at the time had about 800 members, left 15th Street in 1891 for a McKim, Mead & White-designed Italian Renaissance-style palazzo at 7 West 43rd Street, which is also a New York City landmark, designated in 1967, as well as on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. McKim, Mead & White's design established a preferred style for private clubhouse buildings all over the United States in the following decades. The The Century Association building was restored by Jan Hird Pokorny in 1992.