A Residence for Women
In the 1890s, as cosmopolitan and immensely rich Americans arrived in Paris, the property came to the attention of the philanthropist Elizabeth Mills Reid. Located in a neighborhood known as "The American Corner," the site especially interested Mills Reid as a potential residence for some of the aspiring American artists drawn to the lively artistic community of Montparnasse. In 1893, she acquired the premises and established the American Girls' Art Club. In 1913, she bought a neighboring property and erected the annex, which included dorm rooms, seven artist studios, and a dining room. To connect the old and new buildings, the Grande Salle was built to host receptions, exhibitions, and conferences.
When the U.S. committed troops to the WWI in 1917, Mills Reid converted the property into a French and American officers' hospital. After the Armistice, she turned the site over to the American Red Cross. It remained their headquarters until early 1922.
With the U.S. now a permanent presence in post-Armistice Europe, a group of prominent American educators asked Mills Reid to use the premises as a residential center for university women. The American University Women's Paris Club was thus born in 1922. The founding signatories were all from elite women’s colleges, notably Virginia C. Gildersleeve (Dean of Barnard College), M. Carey Thomas (founder of Bryn Mawr College), and three other women educated at Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley. The premises also housed the Association française des femmes diplomées des universités (AFFDU) - the French chapter of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW).
In 1927, Mills Reid turned over the property to her daughter-in-law, Helen Rogers Reid, a Barnard College trustee and later President of the New York Herald Tribune. The Board of Directors then decided to name the property Reid Hall in honor of Elizabeth Mills Reid. Barnard graduate Dorothy Flagg Leet became Reid Hall's first director, and served until 1964.
A Cultural and Educational Hub