Ladies Literary Club

Calvin College Performing Arts Annex
Ladies Literary Club, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Size: 10,000 SF

Since 1870, Grand Rapids women have turned their focus toward educating other women in social, political & scientific topics, and the arts. In doing this, the Ladies Literary Club (LLC) became part of what has since been described as the “women’s club movement”. Today, women’s clubs in more than twenty countries continue to engage in social issues of special concern to women and children. The Ladies Literary Club of Grand Rapids has the distinction of having built the first building in the nation for these purposes.

The Ladies Literary Club was constructed in 1887 to serve as an auditorium and meeting house. In the 1930’s it underwent extensive renovations, which enlarged the auditorium and stage areas. Little has changed on the exterior facades of the building since, and the interiors have been minimally improved to accommodate the most basic mechanical and electrical systems.
The LCC itself is historically significant, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.. The Romanesque style façade of the two-story building was constructed with heavily rusticated stone trim at the window & door openings and deeply recessed entry vestibule. French plate glass windows and a stone base enhance the exterior, while classical motifs adorn the interior, including a striking stained glass Tiffany window.

To make the building feasible again, this time for Calvin College, significant improvements are necessary to accommodate current technology and building codes and bring the building into the 21st century. Improved access and restroom facilities will accommodate barrier free needs. Upgrades to the stage lighting and sound systems will enhance performances. New heating and cooling systems will be introduced to replace the currently inadequate mechanical system. These improvements have been designed to minimize the impact of change to the building and preserve the existing architectural fabric of this historic gem.