Union League

Philadelphia City, Philadelphia County, PA

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The Union League of Philadelphia (main entrance at 140 South Broad Street) occupies the block bounded by Sansom, South Broad, Moravian and South 15th Streets.

The Union League was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.[1]

The Union League of Philadelphia is the oldest Republican club in America in continuous existence. Founded in 1862, the Union League, as a semi-political organization whose goals were to give unqualified loyalty to the Government of the United States and unwavering support of its efforts for the suppression of the Rebellion (the Civil War) Over $500,000 and 10,000 troops were supplied by the League during the Civil War.

In 1865, the League built their impressive club building under the direction of John Fraqier, architect and John Crum, master builder. One of the earliest and most attractive examples of the mansard roof in Pennsylvania, the Union League looks more like a great private mansion than a large men's club.

The Union League of Philadelphia is situated on a rectangular lot on the west side of Broad Street, in the square between Chestnut and Walnut Streets. Designed by architect John Fraser, the Union League was built in the French Renaissance style in 1865. The master builder was John Crump with the following assistance; Miller & Killen, brownstone and granite; Joseph H. Gilbert, bricklayer; Samuel W. Leinau, plumbing and gasfitting; Cumming and Brodie, tin and metal roofing; John Kelly, slate; Oliver Fales, flag-stone; William S. Dixon & Sons, grates and registers; Joseph F. Allen, plasterer; Carlile and Jay, painters and glaziers; William and Stokes, lumber; William Smithers, marble mantels; Edwin Grebe, marble mantels and floors; Bartlett and Reynolds, heaters and ranges; Vance and Landis, hardware; Steward and Stevens, ironwork and bells; Phoenix Iron Company, wrought-iron beams; Royer and Brothers, cast-iron; John E. Yeager, stair builder; Kaiser, fresco painter; Buckley and Geary, wood turners; Warner, Miskey and Mrill, gas fixtures; Wood and Perot, ornamental iron work.

This three story structure has a mansard roof and is five bays by ten bays. The facades are of granite, brick and brownstone, the base course being of granite and the rest of the building being of brick. The main steps, entranceway and quoins are of brownstone. The main entrance is approached by two curving staircases topped by a portico supported by paired columns. Windows are elongated two over two with classical architraves. A four story, twelve foot square tower originally was located on the Moravian Street facade. This was removed in 1912.

The interior is divided into large meeting rooms flanking central hallways, fourteen feet wide.

In 1908 Horace Trumbauer was engaged to extend the League House to Fifteenth Street maintaining its interior concepts. Of its eight stories two are underground, one is at ground level and five are above ground. It is built on a granite base with walls of Indiana limestone. The Fifteenth Street entrance ascends gradually about fifteen feet above the street level. The dimensions of the Middle Building are 100' 2" by 114' 8-1/2" and the Fifteenth Street building are 100' 2"by 134' 10". The three units are graciously linked with the marble hall on the first floor extending from Broad to Fifteenth Street. Although a similar pattern is present on the second floor, it is interrupted by the assembly room (Lincoln Hall) which has a hardwood floor. Two unique features add to the interior of the Fifteenth Street structure, the Lincoln Memorial Room designed as a museum facility with the unique sculpture and wood carving emblematic of the Civil War, and a library room especially designed in the French manner. The historic role of all three units is of national importance for this was the site where numerous Presidents of the United States, and on two occasions, their full cabinets met. The League has been the subject of numerous books on American social and political history as well as its own historical studies. The Trumbauer section of the League is considered to be the most interesting example of his work with the city.

  1. Whiteman, Maxwell, The Union League of Philadelphia, 1979, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington DC.

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