Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Union League of Philadelphia
140 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Architecture by John Fraser
Built in 1864, Photographed in 2009
A Union League is one of a number of organizations established in 1863 and 1864 during the American
Civil War to promote loyalty to the Union side and the policies of Abraham Lincoln. They were also
known as Loyal Leagues. They comprised upper middle class men who supported the United States
Sanitary Commission, which helped treat wounded soldiers after battle. The Clubs supported the
Republican Party, with funding, organizational support, and political activism.
Today, the most prominent of the remaining union leagues is the oldest and first: The Union League of
Philadelphia. Founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President
Abraham Lincoln, it laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by
Civil War. The Union League has hosted U.S. presidents, heads of state, industrialists, entertainers and
visiting dignitaries from around the globe. It has also given loyal support to the American military in each
conflict since the Civil War, and continues to be driven by its founding motto, "Love of Country Leads."
Although no longer exclusively Republican or male in membership, the Union League has maintained its
identity as distinctly traditional and politically conservative.
The classic French Renaissance-styled League building, with its brick and brownstone façade and
dramatic twin circular staircases leading to the main entrance on Broad Street, was designed by John
Fraser and completed in 1865. Additions to the building in the Beaux Arts style, by Philadelphia
architect Horace Trumbauer and his chief designer Julian Abele and completed in 1910 and 1911,
expanded the building to occupy an entire city block. The building was listed on the National Register of
Historic Places in 1979. Adorning the walls and hallways is the League’s distinguished collection of art
and artifacts. The collection is a rich, historical chronicle of Philadelphia’s unique imprint upon the
American landscape from the 19th century to today and is recognized by historians and art experts as
valuable components of our shared American history.