The Cosmos Club
is a social club
founded in Washington D.C.
by John Wesley Powell
. Clarence Edward Dutton
, Henry Smith Pritchett
, William Harkness
, John Shaw Billings
were original members. Among its stated goals is "The advancement of its members in science
, and art
Its members have included many recipients of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Club originally met in the Corcoran Building on the corner of 15th and F Streets, Northwest, but moved to Lafayette Square
in 1882. Eventually, the Club occupied the Tayloe and Dolley Madison
Houses on the Eastern side of the Square, and razed two rowhouses between them for additional space. Prompted to relocate by the Federal government, the Club moved to the Townsend mansion at the intersection of Massachusetts
and Florida Avenues
in Northwest Washington in 1952.
Since 1887, the regular meeting place of the Philosophical Society of Washington has been the assembly hall of the Cosmos Club, now called the John Wesley Powell auditorium. The National Geographic Society was founded in the Cosmos Club in 1888.
For its first 110 years, the Cosmos Club did not permit women members, and forbade female guests to enter by the front door or to enter rooms reserved for members. In 1988, the Washington D.C. Human Rights Office ruled that there was probable cause to believe that the club's men-only policy violated the city's anti-discrimination law. The Office was ready to order public hearings on the case, which could have resulted in the loss of all city licenses and permits if the all-male policy had continued.
Cosmos Club Official Site