Saturday, May 18, 2024

Three Arts Club was formed to be a social center and a "safe and congenial" home for women studying arts in Chicago.

Nestled in Chicago's historic Gold Coast neighborhood, the Three Arts Club is a testament to the city's vibrant cultural heritage and commitment to fostering artistic talent. Founded in 1912, the Three Arts Club was established as a haven for young women pursuing careers in the "three arts" of music, drama, and painting.
1300 North Dearborn Street: In 1915, the club moved to a new, larger building at this address. The building, designed by architects Holabird & Roche, could house up to 92 women. This remained the Three Arts Club's location until it closed in 2004. Today, the building at 1300 North Dearborn Street is owned by Restoration Hardware Chicago and houses an art gallery and the Three Arts Café.

The first Three Arts Club residence at 1614 North LaSalle Street had a restaurant and rooms to house sixteen women. In 1914, the club commissioned its building, designed by architects Holabird & Roche. The new three-story building opened in 1915 at 1300 N. Dearborn Street, at the intersection of Goethe and Dearborn, with 92 residence rooms. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 10, 1981.

Over 13,000 women stayed in the club throughout its history.

The Chicago chapter, modeled after the Three Arts Club of New York, aimed to provide aspiring female artists with affordable, safe housing, collaborative spaces, and a supportive network of mentors and peers. The club's founders recognized the unique challenges faced by women in the early 20th century, particularly those seeking to break into male-dominated creative fields. The Three Arts Club empowered countless women to pursue their artistic dreams by offering a safe and nurturing environment.

The club's elegant Renaissance Revival building, designed by architect Holabird & Roche, featured dormitory-style rooms, a spacious dining hall, a library, and various studios for artistic practice. Over the years, the Three Arts Club became a bustling hub of creativity, hosting recitals, exhibitions, and theatrical performances. It also served as a social center where members could gather for lectures, workshops, and other cultural events.

Three Arts Club continuously provided residential space for women artists until 2004, when the last residents moved out. In 2007, the building was sold to developers, and the net proceeds were invested in an operating fund to seed and grow a new nonprofit, 3Arts.

Throughout its history, the Three Arts Club has welcomed diverse, talented women, including musicians, dancers, actors, painters, sculptors, and writers. Notable residents included Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lorraine Hansberry, renowned dancer Ruth Page, and acclaimed actress Geraldine Page. The club's impact extended beyond its walls as alumnae succeeded in various artistic disciplines, contributing to Chicago's rich cultural landscape and inspiring female artists.

In the late 20th century, the Three Arts Club faced financial difficulties and dwindling membership. It ceased operations as a residential club in 2004, but its legacy lived on through a new nonprofit organization, 3Arts, which continues to support women artists in Chicago.

In 2007, the Three Arts Club building was sold to developers, and in 2015, Restoration Hardware transformed it into a luxury retail store and restaurant. While the building's original purpose has shifted, its architectural grandeur and historical significance remain. Today, the Three Arts Club stands as a reminder of Chicago's vibrant artistic heritage and its unwavering commitment to fostering creativity and empowering women.

The Three Arts Club of Chicago, as a residential club and organization supporting women artists, no longer exists. 3Arts is a newer nonprofit organization that supports artists working in the Chicago metropolitan area's performing, teaching, and visual arts.

3AP (3Arts Projects) is a unique crowdfunding platform with a built-in match that helps Chicago artists finance new creative work. Currently, they have  200 Projects, $1,228,253 raised, and $301,378 matched.

Today, Restoration Hardware Chicago owns the Three Arts Club building, which has an art gallery and restaurant (3 Arts Club Café) at 1300 N. Dearborn Street. The original dormitory floor boundary lines, dining hall, and kitchen remain.

The Former Three Arts Club Building sold for $44.7 million on October 28, 2021. The Gold Coast landmark houses Restoration Hardware and its 3 Arts Club Cafe, which will remain there under a long-term lease. Chicago trader Don Wilson's real estate company has sold the historic Gold Coast building that houses Restoration Hardware and its 3 Arts Club Cafe.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale. Ph.D.

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