The Union League: A Visit Through History

Story by: NYSHADAE’ TAYLOR / Paul Robeson High School

Photo by:  BRITTANY JACOBS / Communications Technology High School

Executive Director John Meko offers insight into the League’s history.

When you hear the words “Union League” what do you think of?

Boring?

But once inside, with an opportunity to tour this historic building located on Broad Street about two blocks south of City Hall, the architecture, the charm, the history and the traditions of the Union League are impressive. Inside it looks like a mansion with chandeliers and art work. There are exhibits of artifacts from the Civil War. And there are a lot of statues of famous U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Executive Director of the Union League of Philadelphia, John Meko said the things inside the Union League are a part of its purpose. The League was founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to promote loyalty to the Union and support the policies of President Abraham Lincoln.

Meko said the League currently has more than 3,300 members. The League, always known for its exclusive members is more diverse today and  includes female members in this once all-male organization. The current League President, Joan Carter, was one of the first five females members admitted in 1986.

The Union League has been a home away from home for its members. The members come to socialize, dine, and relax in the comfort of a beautiful historic setting. Its private Five Star Platinum Club provides members and their families with a nice dining experience.

Although the members of the Union League of Philadelphia are entitled to many exclusive privileges, there’s still lots offered to the public. Non-members, for example, can rent rooms for weddings and visit the Heritage Room filled with historic items.

Meko has worked at the League for seven years. His job includes directing scholarships, youth work and the League’s Abraham Lincoln program.

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