Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2016

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Page 11 of 43

city of angels By Abigail Lewis A CLUB OF ONE'S OWN Social media connections can take you only so far Photos: courtesy the Ebell P icture an early 20th-century men's club— power brokers in leather armchairs quaff- ing whisky in a haze of cigar smoke. Wom- en's clubs of the same era were more likely to focus on literature or social welfare, or perhaps how to get the right to vote. In Los Angeles they might have belonged to the Ebell Club, which had 3,000 members at its peak. The club was, in fact, inspired by a man— Adrian Ebell—who spent his short life (he died at 36) trying to expand horizons for women. Established in 1894, it still operates in one of its original buildings on Wilshire Boulevard in Hancock Park, a 1927 Italian renaissance revival treasure with national landmark status. The Ebell Club was established as a learning center for women, who had far fewer educa- tional opportunities in those days and generally did not attend university. It offered classes in Shakespeare and art appreciation, theatre per- formances and poetry readings, and, of course, philanthropic opportunities. Over its 121 years there have been numerous famous guests, such as Amelia Earhart, Queen Marie of Roma- nia and First Lady Michelle Obama; and performers from Judy Garland to Beyoncé. The last decade has seen a restoration of the original interior design, paint and furniture. The main hall, recently the site of a sold-out screening of She's Beautiful When She's Mad about the birth of the feminist movement, features a glorious coffered ceiling with gilded rosettes and a wide stairway with steps a foot deep to allow for graceful ascent in sweeping skirts. There's an art salon and a cozy library, as well as an expan- sive reading room with two pianos, and member wardrobe do- nations have provided a priceless collection of women's attire. The talented chef Louis Pechan is on hand for special events, which happen frequently—some are private events, some cor- porate, but many, including classes, fi lm screen- ings and dance performances, are sponsored by the club. Philanthropies and hands-on efforts to empower women and children continue to be a major focus. And then there's the friendship. Despite the advantages of social media, current members (now numbering 468 mostly educated profes- sional women ages 20-something to 105) speak most highly of their personal connections with a group of like-minded women. Membership cost is reasonable. The benefi ts, they say, are price- less. 323.931.1277, http://ebellla.org Staff of Better Speech department, 1929 12 wholelifetimes.com

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