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Scarab Club

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1928–1929, Lancelot Sukert. 217 Farnsworth St.

The Scarab Club was established in 1916. Its purpose was “to promote the mutual acquaintance of art lovers and art workers, to stimulate and guide toward practical expression the artistic sense of the people of Detroit, and to advance the knowledge and love of the Fine Arts in every possible manner.” Club members included painters, sculptors, architects, engravers, illustrators, musicians, and writers, but membership was closed to women until 1962. The club's precursor was the Hopkin Club, which was founded in 1907 and named in honor of Detroit artist Robert Hopkin (1832–1909). Initially the Scarab Club occupied temporary quarters, then in 1922 under club president Henry G. Stevens, the members selected a site adjacent to the art institute and began plans to build the present clubhouse. It is used for entertainment and social purposes and to provide studio and exhibition facilities for its artist members.

The plain brick building blends Moderne with Arts and Crafts. In the facade three groups of windows are recessed between flat piers over a band of zigzag brick and another row of terra-cotta grilles. High above the entrance a medallion manufactured by Pewabic Pottery, on which is represented the figure of a scarab in turquoise, green, and gold, distinctly marks the brick wall. The first-floor gallery opens to a courtyard on the north. Over the fireplace on the wooden beamed and paneled second-floor lounge, a mural painted by Paul Honoré depicts the Scarab family tree. Six well-lighted studios with galleries occupy the third floor.

The club was designed by Sukert (1888–1966), a Detroit architect who belonged to the Scarab Club. Sukert studied architecture at the Universities of California and Pennsylvania and at Columbia University. Before starting his own office in 1921, he worked briefly in New York City and in the office of Albert Kahn. Sukert explained that the Scarab Club building is “a composite of ideas contributed by many members.”

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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