HISTORY

India House is a private social and business club in Downtown Manhattan where members enjoy private dining, elegant social events, and exceptional business and social accommodations.


Located in its own landmark building on Historic Hanover Square, all the services and attractions of the financial district are just a short walk away, including the New York Stock Exchange, World Financial Center, South Street Seaport, Battery Park, Federal Reserve Bank, and more.


Current amenities include:


A formal luncheon service in the elegant Members-only Dining Room.


Use of the Willard Straight Members’ Lounge (which also includes a private office and meeting room) where members may order drinks and light food from 4 p.m. onwards. By prior arrangement, members may also have dinner served in the Straight Lounge.

 

The Lounge is open to members Monday through Friday from 9 am to 10 pm.


Afternoon and evening refreshments and food are available in the Blue Bar. Members receive a 20% discount on posted Blue Bar prices.


From time to time, affinity groups and “clubs within a club” have been formed, reflecting and satisfying specific interests of groups of members. A growing list of reciprocal clubs, in both domestic and international locations, mark an important enhancement to the current India House membership, consisting of men and women from various professions and social interests.

History

India House has a long and distinguished heritage tied into the formation of lower Manhattan as well as the history of business and commerce of New York.


The landmark India House was constructed by the builder Richard Carman some time after the fire of 1835, in the style of a Renaissance palazzo, residential palaces of Italian banking families. It was the home of the Hanover Bank who first purchased the property.


The edifice has remained almost unchanged since that date. Extensive restoration work was completed in 2005. The name India House was selected to symbolize the Indies, which were believed to epitomize the rare and exotic. The name also pays homage to the Dutch West India Company, the first colonizers of Manhattan.


After the Hanover Bank moved out, the property became the possession of Robert L. Maitland. His company Maitland and Company were tobacco importers. The property was subsequently used by the New York Cotton Exchange (1870 to 1885), and later by W.R. Grace & Company.


India House, as an organization, came into being in 1914, when a group of business men headed by James A. Farrell, then president of United States Steel Company, in collaboration with Willard Straight, decided to create a meeting place for the interests of foreign trade. Presidents of the Lackawanna Steel Company, Dollar Steamship Company, W.R. Grace Shipping, Chase National Bank, and United States Rubber all became Governors of India House and remained active during its first two decades.


The National Foreign Trade Council made India House its headquarters. Leaders in commerce worldwide graced the halls at India House. Indeed, from its very inception, the club's charter stated that its goal was to "create in this country a relation between the bankers and the promoters of foreign enterprises that would make it possible to handle foreign undertakings..."


Early in 1918 Willard Straight bought the property with the idea that India House might some day wish to own it. Through the generosity of Mrs. Dorothy Payne Whitney-Straight (Elmhirst), India House acquired the property in February 1921, and on the expiration of certain leases in 1924, rearranged and rebuilt the structure.

 

View Artwork Collection


In 1925, Mr. William A. Delano, the well-known architect added what is now known as the Marine Room, with special lighting and architectural details that relate to marine life and seafaring. Extensive alterations were made and the rooms were fitted out in the spirit of the early American overseas trade.


Dorothy Whitney and her husband Willard Straight collected and gave a collection of thirty-five ship models, and subsequently a large collection of paintings, prints, maritime relics and other decorations which had been loaned to the Club when it was formed and had given it much of its unique atmosphere. These and other gifts from members and friends have given the Club a very fine collection of paintings, models and other art objects connected with sailing vessels, seafaring life and trade with East India.


Mr. James A. Farrell, the President, gave, then and later, rare ship models, engravings and paintings.


Mr. Straight donated a collection of Chinese art objects and maritime paintings. India House is home to one of the finest marine art collections in the world.


India House has remained a private club and a location to build relationships between businesses in the United States and foreign trade.


The maritime historian, Frank O. Braynard, in his 1973 foreword to the second edition of The Marine Collection at India House, states that "England could not have survived [World War Two] without the armada of American-built, American-manned, American-operated merchant vessels...managed by many of the outstanding members of India House.


Many statesmen have been members of India House, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., James Byrnes, W. Averell Harriman, George C. Marshall, Henry Cabot Lodge and Cyrus Vance. Other members include previous mayors of New York, including John P. O'Brien and the famous architect William Adams Delano, whose firm, Delano & Aldrich, redesigned the interior of India House.