The Hotel Brotherhood purchased this building on Bainbridge Street in 1906 as a meeting space and social hall.
Founded in 1883 as an organization for black hotel staff in Philadelphia, the Brotherhood expanded to include other trades in the early 20th century and came to be known as the Bainbridge Club, which was very popular from the 1930s to the 1960s It was routinely packed on Saturday night and hard to get in.
The Bijou Café opened on October 4, 1972. The club was in the former location of the legendary Showboat. The Bijou hosted such jazz greats as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Bill Evans. Grover Washington, Jr. recorded “Live at the Bijou” in May 1977.
In the 1970s and early ‘80s, the Bijou was Philadelphia’s premier showcase for up-and-coming artists, including Barry Manilow, Angela Bofill, U2 and Prince who performed here in 1979.
Longtime radio personality T. Morgan recalled:
The jazz lineups were nothing short of spectacular and the comedy was even better! The National Lampoon Show with future superstars John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman all appeared together. Another comedy troupe, Firesign Theater also appeared. Billy Crystal was an opening act four times and a headliners three times. His impersonation of Muhammad Ali was a big crowd favorite. Albert Brooks, Richard Pryor, Martin Mull and his Fabulous Furniture, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld and Dick Gregory all keep the audiences amused.
Ciro’s was one of a string of nightclubs owned by Frank Palumbo, a restaurateur, local celebrity, humanitarian, and power broker. In 1948, Louis Armstrong’s All Stars — featuring Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines and Sid Catlett — recorded a series of radio broadcasts at Ciro’s.
CC’s nightclub was located in the Hotel Powelton. Vivienne Tang of Hidden City Philadelphia reported:
It’s a rare sunny winter day and a young woman and two men are sitting outside an ordinary West Philadelphia apartment building.
“Hey, do you guys live here?” I ask them.
“Yeah,” says one of the men.
“Do you know anything about its history?”
“Man, you have no idea how many people stop me and say they used to come here when it was called CC’s nightclub. People say it was really cool, a real jazzy kind of place.”
“Have you guys heard of the Barnes Foundation?”
“Yeah, never been though.”
“You know, he had a factory in this building? And he used to hang paintings here.”
“No way, seriously?”
Despite all the attention paid to the Barnes Foundation’s move into Philadelphia, there is in fact no blue plaque here, no mention in any guidebook. But this corner a half block from the 40th Street El station is the source, so to speak, of Dr. Barnes’ magic potent, the antiseptic Argyrol. And Argyrol is the source of his extraordinary art collection, the first home of the Barnes Foundation.
In 1902 Barnes and his partner Herman Hille rented eight rooms of what was the Hotel Powelton to produce Argyrol. Used to prevent infant blindness and to treat infections like gonorrhea, Barnes found markets for Argyrol worldwide. Indeed, venereal disease made Barnes a very rich man.
Here, Barnes created an integrated factory more than half a century before the Civil Rights movement. With just 20 workers at its peak, Barnes’ factory was a small, well-oiled machine. It was so efficient that two hours could be cut from the eight hour business day. But instead of letting workers clock out early, Barnes devised an experiment in education and put on voluntary “seminars.” These lessons covered philosophy, psychology, educational theory and art appreciation.
The Chestnut Cabaret was a nightclub located at 38th & Ludlow Streets It was later named the Blockley before its closure.
The club played host to jazz, blues, soul and funk greats, including Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Albert King, Average White Band, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lee Hooker, Gil Scott-Heron, Parliament-Funkadelic, Stanley Clarke, and Wynton and Branford Marsalis.