Johns Hopkins Club contents go up for auction as the building undergoes ‘major’ renovation

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The north facade of the Johns Hopkins Club. Photo credit: Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University.

Want a souvenir from The Johns Hopkins Club?

Starting Friday, Alex Cooper Auctioneers will be selling furniture, artwork and other items from the club as the Johns Hopkins University moves ahead with a “major” renovation of its longtime building on the Homewood campus.

Many of the items up for sale have the Hopkins name or crest on them and could be meaningful keepsakes for Hopkins alumni, club members and others familiar with the campus, said Alex Hernan, Director of Furniture for Alex Cooper.

“Some of it will probably have sentimental value” or will be items that people remember because they were in the club for a very long time, Hernan said. “There are definitely some things that are original to the club and some things that are newer. It’s a mix of everything.”

Hernan said the auction is comparable to the one Cooper recently held involving items from the Milton Inn, after the Foreman Wolf restaurant group bought the property and wanted to renovate. In this case, the university is renovating the building and Cooper was brought in to help find a home for some of the club’s furnishings.

Items from the Hopkins Club include sofas, chairs, patio furniture, leaded-glass bookshelves, clocks, portraits of past club members and a range of Hopkins-themed artwork from different schools within the University.

“Some of it will probably have sentimental value” or will be items that people might remember because they were in the club for a very long time, Hernan said. “There are definitely some things that are original to the club and some things that are newer. It’s a mix of everything.”

The thinking is that people “might want to take a little piece home with them, similar to the Milton Inn,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s going to be quite the same nostalgia for that, but we’re really excited about it. There are a few things that will definitely have a Hopkins Club logo on it.”

In deciding what to put up for auction, “we pulled out a lot of the stuff that we thought people would really love from the Hopkins Club,” he said. “We kind of picked the best that was there. We think this is a great opportunity for somebody to take home something from the Hopkins Club, and we’re just excited to be able to help.”

The interior of one of the rooms at the Johns Hopkins Club. Photo credit: Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University.

A popular gathering spot for Hopkins alumni and guests, the Hopkins Club is currently closed for renovations.

The club was founded in 1899 and is a corporate entity that is separate from Johns Hopkins University. It has had a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has allowed it to lease its building off San Martin Drive, where it has operated since at least 1940 and which the university owns.

The renovations are needed to upgrade an 80-year-old building and “help to ensure the Club’s future,” according to a letter sent to club members in July by the club’s Board of Governors.

A companion fact sheet on the club’s website states that the club’s lease expired on June 30 and was not renewed. A new lease will be negotiated with the club’s board “in the future,” the fact sheet states.

“For decades, the Johns Hopkins Club has been part of the Hopkins community, a place for faculty, alumni, friends, neighbors, and supporters of the University to engage with each other in amiable surroundings,” the Board of Governors wrote in July.

“Beginning this summer, the University will undertake major construction work to improve the building the Club has called home since 1940, upgrading its systems and refreshing the space, to create a vibrant hub on campus. When the work is complete, the Club will return in a different capacity, alongside other University groups, as one of the building’s mainstay occupants, with access to the building’s restaurant and use of the facility for private and other special events.”

The scope of construction work is still being determined, but it is expected to take at least 18 to 24 months to complete, the club’s board said in July. That puts the reopening in 2023 at the earliest.

“During this time, the Club will be able to lease other spaces on the Homewood campus for meetings and social events,” the board said. “While we wish we could return to the Club’s long-time home this fall, we look forward to the new look and vitality the University will bring to the building.

Renovation of the Hopkins Club is one of several major projects underway or envisioned for the Homewood campus under President Ronald Daniels, including a new student center and a renovated Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

“We have had many conversations about the destiny of the Club and the renovations essential to the building,” the club leaders said in their letter. “University representatives have made clear their understanding of our historic and ongoing importance to the Johns Hopkins community and their commitment to providing a home for our continued operation. We are proud of our close relationship with Johns Hopkins and are looking forward to what the future holds.”

According to a joint fact sheet from the University and the Club: “The University has always owned the building and the Club has been the sole occupant since 1936. The University has identified several significant infrastructure issues with the building that are consistent with an 80-year-old facility. The University has described potential plans to renovate and update the building, which will prevent occupancy until renovations are complete.”

That evaluation led to the decision to end the club’s lease on the building, according to the joint statement.

“In order to plan, fund, and complete renovation of the building, the University would not be in position to honor the long-standing lease with the Club,” it states. “Accordingly, the University exercised its option to end the MOU and lease of the building to the Club effective July 1, 2021. In the meantime, the Club’s corporate status is not affected and the Club will remain a separate corporate entity as it has always been. Once the renovation is completed, the Club will negotiate a new lease for use of the building.”

The University “is committed to modernizing the building, rendering it an attractive, accessible, and vibrant hub of activity for the entire Johns Hopkins community, including members of the Club,” the joint statement says. “The University will determine the best use of the facility and will seek input from Club leadership as it develops programming and designs plans for the building.”

It’s not yet clear what the renovated building will look like, but the goal is to have food service in there, the statement says.

“In the coming months, the University will review existing and future needs for the building, identify available funds, develop a plan for the building, and coordinate all deferred maintenance to ensure the space meets building code requirements and to enhance its offerings,” the joint statement says. “The goal is to create a comfortable and welcoming building on the Homewood campus for the University and its affiliates, Club members, and the community.”

According to Hernan, the Hopkins Club items will be part of an online “Discovery” sale along with items from other consigners.

The sale starts Oct. 8 and will close on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. There will be more than 800 lots in all, and about 250 to 300 lots will be from the Hopkins Club. The website for the auction will go “live” by Friday afternoon and will remain up until the sale is over.

To give prospective buyers a chance to see what’s up for auction, Cooper is having five preview sessions at a new showroom in Cockeysville.

The preview dates are Oct. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The showroom is located at 10880 Railroad Avenue, Suite 700B.

Cooper has leased about 9,000 square feet of the building and plans to use it as a gallery primarily for its online Discovery auctions, Hernan said. Its headquarters and main galleries will continue to be at 908 York Road in Towson, he said.

Ed Gunts

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  1. Ask the Hopkins Club when members will receive refunds of their dues and the $100 “donation” from last year.

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