News & Advocacy

City Landmark Nomination Filed for Philomathean Hall

October 20, 2023

On October 17, the Conservancy filed a City Landmark nomination for a 65-year-old meeting hall built and owned by the Philomathean Charity Club, Inc. The organization, which is still in existence today, is one of the oldest African American women’s clubs in Southern California. Founded by seven African American women in 1921, the Philomathean Club has supported a wide range of social services, given financial support, and provided educational opportunities in the community for over one hundred years.

Click here to access the nomination.

Women and girls pose at a Philomathean Charity Club Inc. social event in the 1950s. Credit: Quinn Research Center.

Club members made a wise investment in 1958 when they built a meeting hall that included two retail spaces, allowing them to engage in community building while paying their mortgage. The rental income has been directed into a college scholarship program for Black high school students since the mortgage was paid in the 1970s. Known as Philomathean Hall, the mid-century commercial building is located at 1810 Broadway, in the heart of what was once a thriving Black community before construction of the 10 Freeway in the 1960s severed the neighborhood and displaced many residents. Once designated, Philomathean Hall will become the first landmarked building along this historic stretch of Broadway to celebrate Santa Monica’s African American history.

Philomathean Club Building, October 2022. View of Broadway elevation. Credit: Nina Fresco.

In recognition of the club’s deep significance to the local community, the Conservancy worked closely with Philomathean officials and the Quinn Research Center (QRC) to prepare the Landmark application. The nomination is supported by all current members of the Philomathean Club and will be submitted for review and approval by the Landmarks Commission next year. In the meantime, the Conservancy has made the full site history from the application available online. Click here to access the document.

“This structure visually represents a century of charitable deeds provided to people in Santa Monica and other communities. It will tell the story about seven ladies who had a dream that has multiplied over the years and is still being carried on by current members,” said Carolyne Edwards, Conservancy Board member, Philomathean Club member and co-founder of the QRC, an archive of local Black history. “Soon people will see the corner of 18th and Broadway in a more meaningful way, and future generations will have the opportunity to know this history.”

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