We recently learned the distressing news that The Players Club, Gramercy Park’s members-only theater club, might be shut down due to financial mishandling. The Players, which we visited in February on a behind the scenes tour, recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, making it the oldest private club in New York City still in its original location.
The Players Club was founded in 1888 by Edwin Booth, a Shakespearian actor and brother of John Wilkes Booth, together with fifteen incorporators, including Mark Twain and General William Tecumseh Sherman. The Players occupies a beautiful five story Greek revival townhouse and members have access to a key that opens Gramercy Park. It was originally an all male club for actors to get to know society men. The club has an incredibly rich history, as evidenced by the many artifacts housed there, including Mark Twain’s pool cue, Booth’s costumes from Shakespearian dramas, and even the skull of an admirer that Booth used in Hamlet’s soliloquy. Portraits of the club’s members, including Carey Grant, Gregory Peck, Tommy Lee Jones, Liza Minelli, Jimmy Fallon, and many more hang on the wall by the staircase.