A New Cool: the George Town Club

Andrew Law and Debbie Winsor. | Robert Devaney

You can see that the next generation is taking over at the George Town Club. You can see the changes in the windows that now shine in light through the first floor’s new design. You can even see that the club wants to be your second home. Call it the new cool or the club gets its groove back.

“We have carefully re-invented the George Town Club,” said designer Andrew Law of the elegant in-town club, known for its members involved in politics, diplomacy, business, academia and other professions. Founded in 1966 and rich in stories, the club of late had fallen flat but has undergone a design, culinary and leadership renewal that is attracting new members to the corner property at 1530 Wisconsin Ave., NW.

“The club feels relevant again,” said designer Deborah Winsor, who with others worked on the club over the summer. Sisal rugs brighten up a few of the rooms 10 in total — and linen fabric are used on walls to show off antique woodwork. During the rehab and carpenters’ work, insor moved and re-purposed furniture and then moved artwork from downstairs and hung new and contemporary art from Hemphill Gallery.

entrance door open to all of the first floor allows guests to glance from the entrance to the windows on Volta Place in the Grill — where simply, again, removing the drapery blocking the windows made the room appear new.

“Demographics are changing,” said club treasurer John Girouard. “If you don’t change, you’ll die. Just last week, we had 20 new applicants.”

There are more than 100 new members an amount ever increasing. Girouard is thinking management’s increased efficiency and quality control along with targeting the 30
to 50 demographic. There is new programming for the club’s calendar and talk of “date night,” where children are watched in one room while parents dine upstairs.

The Grill Room is the highlight right now, showing off the club’s new cool. The Reading Room and Living Room have been redone. Other rooms will undergo design changes.
The club’s general manager is Yann Henrotte with chef Martin Galicia making up the new menu. Working on the changes have been Law, Winsor, Girouard, along with George Town Club President Sharon Casey, Vice President Lynn Doran and Elizabeth Miller as well as restaurateur Bo Blair with his wife Meghan.

It was the club’s longtime leader Wyatt Dickerson, he of Pisces fame during the 1970s and ‘80s, and partner with the scandalous Tongsun Park, that recommended Bo Blair, he with the younger generation’s guest lists and of nearby Smith Point and elsewhere.

The club wants to be a place for Georgetowners to stop by for coffee before work or relax after work, not just a spot for suburban visitors. One member said he wanted more of a “Cheers” effect for young and old alike, classy but not stand-offish.

To that end, for example, the club is offering a reduced initiation fee for residents of $2,000 (monthly dues, $150; quarterly minimum of $240). Preview membership waives the initiation fee for one year. Those younger than age 35 can join for $750. There are also on-resident and international memberships with lower fees; foreign diplomats accredited to the U.S., O.A.S. or the U.N. are offered free memberships.

The club is open Monday through Saturday but plans to be open also on Sunday sometime in 2014. The club held several get-togethers to promote its new look and vibe. Here are a few photos taken at the George Town Club recently.

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