An Exceptional Club for Women in Baltimore


It was Olivia Holt who came up with the idea for the women’s Hamilton Street Club in 1928.  That same year, Virginia Woolf wrote that a woman must have money and a room of her own, certainly in order to write fiction!

deskAlso in 1928, Woolf’s hero-turned-heroine Orlando became a modern woman after a colorful journey through several hundred years of history.   “Orlando leapt as if she had been violently struck on the head.  Her thoughts became mysteriously tightened… Her hearing quickened… The light poured in… She saw everything more and more clearly.  It was 1928.  It was the present moment.  She ran downstairs, jumped into her motor car, pressed the self-starter and was off!”

Perhaps our visionary Olivia had a similar flash of inspiration!  Like-minded friends proffered enthusiasm in bright waves.  Funds were soon husbanded.  They rented a remodeled 19th century stable at 16 East Hamilton Street.  Small and unpretentious, they were launched.  The Club officially opened on November 11, 1928.  On November 23, the first Annual Meeting was held.  Membership was 100 strong, and 52 attended the meeting, agreeing unanimously to name their invention The Hamilton Street Club.  A week later, the Board of Governors met for the first time, Olivia Holt presiding.


It would be hard to find a more clubbable street, as the ladies attested by picking the next block, east of the Charles for theirs.  Narrowness and brevity inhibit its use as a thoroughfare.  And the ancient look of some of the houses… gives it an old-world atmosphere…”  – from Fifty Years of the 14 West Hamilton Street Club by Walker Lewis, 1975.