BNHA Sphinx Club

Interpretive Framework

Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century

Star Attractions

Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail

Resource Type

Points of Interest

2115 Pennsylvania Ave

Baltimore, Maryland 21217

Established by Charlie Tilghman in 1946, the Sphinx Club was “the place” to be on the “hot” Pennsylvania Avenue and one of the nation’s first minority-owned membership night clubs. Near the end of the Club’s nearly 50 years of operation in 1995, The Afro-American Newspapers wrote, “It had a certain air about it... a pronounced style that set it apart… the one spot where if you wait long enough, you are certain to meet everyone who is anyone.”

Tilghman mastered the art of night club promotion by a members only policy and establishing an aura of “the elite.” A gifted party planner, Tilghman’s themed events became fundamental parts of Baltimore nightlife. The club lasted longer than any other Baltimore nightclubs from this era, maintaining its well-deserved high-profile identity well into the 1990s. Its offshoot organizations, such as the Young Pharaohs, associated softball and bowling clubs, and club-affiliated basketball teams added spice to the club’s broad appeal. Tilghman’s business acumen and clever wit also afforded him success as a supermarket mogul. SuperPride Markets—first founded as Jet Foods—was one of his most successful financial ventures. Approaching a half-century of business, The Sphinx closed its doors in the mid-1990s.