What is the Sanctum Club?
The small gray building on South Street in Litchfield has always had an air of mystery surrounding it. On Thursday nights, when its members meet, cars line the street on both sides and passersby whisper: “Ah, The Sanctum is in session.”
But what exactly is The Sanctum? It is a men’s social club, founded in 1906 by George Sanford, John L. Buel, Seymour Cunningham, WG Wallbridge, Louis Ripley, and Origen Seymour—six local gentlemen, and dedicated to “mutual improvement, literary, and social purposes.” The two-story building in which the organization is housed was built around 1820 as a store and office. It is typical of the Greek revival commercial buildings constructed during the 19th century. This building, along with a house and barn, was owned by David and Lucy Parmalee and then sold to Sally Miner and Silas N. Bronson. The original house was demolished in 1919 to make way for St. Michael’s Parish, which still stands on the original property. Mr. Cunningham, who, in turn, sold it to The Sanctum, purchased the store, known as the Bronson Store.
The 100 members meet Thursdays, arriving in jackets and ties. Following cocktails and dinner, generally catered, there are programs and discussions on various topics. Or members enjoy a game of cards or billiards. Lockers are available for members to store their favorite libation and other personal property. Men wishing to join The Sanctum must wait to be invited and then sponsored by two members. There are no female members, but women are invited in on New Year’s Day.