Creatives can kick back at Norwood Club in NYC.
A contingent for like-minded people of artistic talent and ability, New York City’s exclusive Norwood Club is not of common knowledge, even for its surrounding Chelsea-neighborhood residents. Behind the club’s classical brownstone exterior is semi-unintentional secrecy that adds to Norwood’s allure and rising mystic. Walking by, you’ll notice no signage outside of the estate, and members and their guests are prohibited from having cameras or phones in many rooms of the club.
Within the walls of the immaculate Norwood estate, located on 14th Street, an international, creative-arts community thrives hosting events large and small—all for the purpose of entertaining, networking and celebrating art, of whatever fashion or manner that may be.
“Whether you’re a creative musician, filmmaker, writer, artist, designer or performer, it’s nice to have a place you can go and be surrounded by people who are creative just like yourself. It was very important to me to have a club in a house because we want it to feel like home,” says Norwood Club owner Alan Linn, the former general manager of Blacks Club: a Gregorian-decorated, private members’ club in London.
“We didn’t want a large, empty space … but a building with many rooms we could divide into different spaces, with different atmospheres, themes and settings.”
Having a far-reaching, transitional history, Norwood estate, as a property, symbolizes the decadence and elegance of early New York City high-class society.
As debauchery, crime, poverty, disease and gang violence escalated in lower Manhattan’s Five Points area during the mid-19th century, north of what is now Greenwich Village was a landscape not yet commercially developed, where farm land and large estate plots were still in the family names of high-society members of the quickly expanding city of New York.
At that time, Andrew S. Norwood—a highly respected and extremely wealthy merchant—noticed the commerce surge that was taking place in Lower Manhattan, and began his own transition uptown. From lower Broadway to dignified Bond Street in 1929, and then farther north years later, Norwood settled on 14th Street between 7th and 8th avenues. In 1947, he completed the first masonry residence on the block, as the design balanced Greek Revival with a—at the time—new Italianate architectural style.
Wider than most buildings of its kind, walking up the expanded stoop and through Norwood Club’s exquisite, French-door entranceway, the interior is elaborately designed, and is constructed with 13 carved marble fireplace mantles and a curving reverse staircase that winds upward toward a stained-glass skylight.
Designed by Simon Costin—set designer of many Alexander McQueen fashion shows—The Lounge, one of the first rooms invited members enter, is home to curated contemporary artwork that is displayed for the duration of a calendar year, before a new artist has the opportunity to showcase his or her work in The Lounge.
At the rear of the home, down a quick flight of stairs, a stylish, high-walled garden welcomes guests to enjoy the mood that comes with each season. The first warm days of spring are celebrated with Champagne, while those early, snappy autumn evenings are often greeted with warm apple cider.
Letting loose on the second floor, The Salon is an ode to Greenwich Village Bohemia, mixed with found art and member contributions. Radiating a Royal-Academy-of-Arts feel, there are large sofas throughout the room and a self-canopied bar. With a late-night fervor to The Salon, the sounds of rock ’n’ roll—classic and contemporary—vibrate as the energy of the room generates a vibe of excitation.
Also on the second floor, methodically designed in red, The Club Room exudes a sexy, wintery appeal, with walls draped in donated pieces of fine art by artists such as Damien Hirst. An in-house restaurant designed by the same folks who fashioned the famed Russian Tea Room, The Club Room seats 50 people in stylish banquette seating. In fact, The Club Room is closed during the summer months to keep its wintery appeal fresh and anticipatory each year.
Farther toward the skylight is the loft area, the simplest of all the rooms at Norwood Club. With a stark, open setting, the loft is utilized for various functions. From a screening room for movies and fashion trunk shows, to wine tastings or business-hour proposals, the loft’s audio-visual capabilities make each presentation a sensory masterpiece.
“The building is the star, and that’s why we kept the name Norwood. When guests come in, they get to explore something they never thought would be there when looking [at it] from the street,” Linn adds.
Since 2007, Norwood Club has opened its membership process to anyone in the creative field, but it should be noted that the process is highly selective, as each applicant must impress the established Norwood Club committee with background credentials—or at the least with an innovative outlook in their particular artistic field.
“People often apply through other members, but you don’t have to know a member to apply. We believe there are a lot of creative people not connected to others, and we don’t really like to form cliques of people,” says Linn who points out that Norwood’s membership landscape is quite broad, including a few who make their living in finance, but also sit on the board of art-collection houses or museums.
With more than 1,200 members, the club has done a masterful job of providing even its world-famous constituents a setting of anonymity, where each member is treated as an individual and is given an environment to commune with like-minded, creative people.
“It’s not about fame here; it’s about talent. It’s a home for curious.”
All photos courtesy Norwood Club