Tower Club

Tower Club, founded in 1902, occupied no less than five separate structures in the first 15 years of its existence. The section that incorporated Tower was unable to use the Incubator, then inhabited by Charter, and so the club's first home was a building on University Place variously called "the Monastery" or "Bachelor's Club." Little is known about this structure [32-93]
or its architect, although the photographic record shows an unremarkable shingle house of the style common in late 19th-century American domestic architecture. (This house was reportedly moved to Library Place in the 1920s.)

When Charter moved out of the Incubator [32-10]
in 1903, Tower moved in, staying only a year before moving to new quarters at 89 Prospect Avenue. The structure that Tower invested was none other than the old Cottage clubhouse, [32-62]
originally built in 1892, which was moved to farther down the street to make way for Cottage's grand new Georgian Revival home. This solid building, notable for its full shingle construction and turrets, served Tower from 1904 to 1911. (The newly formed Cloister Inn was the next tenant.)

At a time when most of the clubs were flocking to Prospect Avenue, Tower then took the unusual step of moving to Nassau Street into the much-traveled Fine House. This shingle building, [32-94]
with its distinctive gambrel roof and wraparound porches, had served as the clubhouse for Quadrangle Club from 1901 until 1909. During Quad's occupancy, the building [32-82]
had been thoroughly renovated and expanded, and was moved twice: from its original location on the south side of Prospect to the north side, and then back to the south. When Quad moved into the McCosh House, the old Quad/Fine House was moved again, this time to Nassau Street.

In 1915, Tower decided that it had outgrown the Fine House and commissioned Roderic Barnes, Class of 1903, to design a new clubhouse on a site between Campus and Cannon Clubs. The rendering [33-9]
and the finished structure [32-37]
(completed 1917) are remarkably similar. Barnes elected to design a brick building [32-95]
reminiscent of the Collegiate Gothic found in Campus, Cap & Gown, and 1879 Hall. The structure's dominant feature is the square, crenelated tower in the center of facade; this not only reflected the club's name but also provided servants with easy access to all floors of the building. Although this scheme doubtless improved circulation on the interior, it detracts from the exterior appearance. The somewhat squat tower competes with the peaked roofs of both the western wing and the articulated doorway. [32-96]

As one of the final wave of clubs built on Prospect, Tower falls neatly into the trend of comfortable, practical club structures drawing on academic models for inspiration. This was no palace along the lines of Cottage or Ivy. As one member wrote: "It was our avowed aim to build an ample, attractive, and practical clubhouse without making it ostentatious." A decade earlier, this attitude would have been inconceivable.


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