The oldest men's club in the country, the Philadelphia Club, was founded in 1834. The original gathering place for these rich folk was Mrs. Rubicam's Coffee House. Meetings were not unlike the loud bantering at Buck's over no-fat sugar-free vanilla lattes about the incoherent texts exchanged during the festivities of yesternight, albeit replacing lattes with scotch and cigars, vaginas with penises and JAPs with WASPs. After several relocations, it eventually found refuge at 13th and Walnut.
Organized by the boy genius B. Franklin himself, the Philosophical Society was and is kind of a big deal. It was never a club, per se, but shared the club air of exclusivity. Everyone from Darwin and Edison to Frost and Russian Princess Dashkova were members of America's first "learned society." The PSA is still dropping knowledge today. Next time you're aching for some Insomnia Cookies and Pink Floyd, take a trip to the Philosophical Hall and philosophize with the spirits of geniuses instead.
Another men-only club (no trannies either), the Wistar Party selected its members from the Philosophical Society and met at Doctor Caspar Wistar's Fourth and Locust abode. Wistar, a highly regarded surgeon and socialite, got drunk with distinguished friends at his house each week. Wistar died in 1818, but his cronies rallied on, rotating meetings at the homes of the members. French botanist Andr‚ Michaux, who visited America and loved Wistar, named the vine Wistaria in the doctor's honor.
The "Street of Little Clubs," ran south from Walnut Street, between 12th and 13th (also called Camac Street). Among the small clubs lining this street were Coin d'Or, the Plastic Club and the Sketch Club:
The Philobiblon Club was a group of club of book-collectors and book lovers. Philobiblons felt segregated and distinguished from other intellects by a spirit of bonhomie and camaraderie. After being ordered to vacate their original Walnut Street premises, the Philobs became migrants, holding up shop for some time at foodie friends Coin d'Or. This epicurean establishment was a gathering of Francophiles in celebration and practice of traditional French cooking.
With a selection process nearly as discriminating as that of The Plastics, the Plastic Club united women artists and sculptors. After the group dissipated, they recolonized under the leadership of Joan Rivers. Unfortunately, most members dropped after learning that rising Plastic Prez Melissa was deemed unhip.
The purpose of artist society the Sketch Club was easily manifest by virtue of its name. Members became disenchanted after another sociey up'd the ante on sketch such that they could not keep up. They have since emulated said society, changing their name to XZBT. then Friendz. then Kingz and finally HOZ. Fucking renegades.
The oldest club of them all, the Colony of the Schuylkill was founded in 1732, changed its name to the State in Schuylkill in 1738. Anne Heche has claimed to be founder of the colony, but its male-only membership casts doubt on this claim. The club's 25 members were united by a love of fish and fishing, and originally met on the Schuylkill River. They dubbed their pledges "Apprentices." Apprentices had to cook well, serve cheerfully and eat standing, all to make them experts at turning broiling fish in air. Members willfully drank "fish-house punch" and kept the recipe of the potent concoction secret from outsiders. The club dissolved when the Executive Board had a contest to see who could drink the most river water without puking - nine members subsequently perished.