The Scarab Club
The Scarab Club is an organization dedicated to the visual, auditory, and literary arts. The club was founded in 1907 by a group of Detroit artists as way to socialize with one another and share their ideas and passion while also hosting festive events and educating the public. Since 1928, the Scarab Club has been housed in its current clubhouse in the heart of the Cultural Center Historic District.
Backstory and Context
Many of the member artists had various affiliations with the burgeoning auto industry as designers, advertisers, illustrators, graphic artists, and photographers. Prominent members of the club included Charles and Lawrence Fisher of Fisher Body Corporation, Edsel Ford of Ford Motor Company, and George Hodges, who made the first enclosed body for a Ford automobile. The club hosted informal meetings such as art discussions, sketch sessions, and dinners. The club’s annual themed costume balls began in 1917 and became a major social event in Detroit; photographs of the event were featured every year in large spreads in local newspapers and even Life Magazine.2
Since 1928, the Scarab Club has been housed in its current clubhouse in the heart of the Cultural Center Historic District. A mix of Renaissance Revival and Moderne styles, the three-story brick building was designed by Lancelot Sukert, who was also a club member and had studied under famous Detroit architect Albert Kahn. The outside of the building has mosaics and Moorish grill decoration as well as a colorful tile scarab emblem. A copper phoenix sculpture is set into one wall. The inside has art deco fixtures and contains offices, a gallery, artists’ studios, and a lounge. The lounge has two major historic features: a huge mural over the fireplace painted by club member Paul Honore, and ceiling beams signed by visiting artists. Some of the notable signatures include Diego Rivera, John Sloan, and Norman Rockwell. 3
The Scarub Club today hosts music concerts, poetry readings, exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. The club’s permanent art collection by members is only display throughout. The clubhouse is also a popular venue for weddings and party rentals.