Arcadia Woman’s Club: A Short History
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Location: Corner of First Avenue and Diamond Street (address below).
Dedicated in 2009.
Sign text: In 1912 the first promotional organization to appear in Arcadia was a woman’s club called the Cooperative Arcadians. This group of 15 women began by sponsoring programs that increased interest in matters of social enjoyment, civic improvement and good works in the community. When the Cooperative Arcadians went out of existence, these women became the foundation of the Arcadia Woman’s Club.
In 1914, Alice Billings, wife of Mayor C.A. Billings, was responsible for spearheading the organization of the Arcadia Woman’s Club. Many of the husbands of these women were closely connected with Arcadia’s municipal affairs. Alice Billings was elected as the Club’s first President.
The list of accomplishments of the Arcadia Woman’s Club has indeed been impressive. They joined District and State Federations as well as the National Federation of Woman’s Clubs. Their departments and committees were active in many civic and charitable organizations including the Red Cross, March of Dimes, the Peach Blossom Festival, Boy and Girl Scout troops, nurses, libraries, parks, children’s hospitals and the USO. The Arcadia Historical Society can be traced to the Arcadia Woman’s Club.
Approaching the Centennial anniversary of the Club and surpassing the 75th anniversary of this original building on First Avenue, both continue to serve the community well in myriad ways.
A public library was one of the Woman’s Club’s earliest civic projects. A small building at the southeast corner of First Avenue and Indiana Street was used as its first home in 1914 but shortly thereafter moved to a room in the McCoy Block at the southwest corner of First Ave. and St. Joseph Street. The City Council paid the rental fee of $10 a month, but the library’s expenses, including buying new books and hiring the librarian, were paid by the Woman’s Club.
One of the Club’s most successful fundraising projects took place at Ross Field Army Balloon School on July 4, 1917. The Army put on an Air Circus (show) with military maneuvers, captive balloons and even boxing matches. The Club sold ice cream and soft drinks for five-cents each and made $160.
The Woman’s Club had a busy year in 1930. Along with their many social, civic and philanthropic programs they incorporated as a non-profit organization and later in the year purchased two lots on First Avenue for $1,800. The Club house groundbreaking ceremony, at 324 South First Avenue, was held on May 4, 1931. The Club house dedication occurred on July 30, 1931.
During World War II the Woman’s Club sold approximately $20,000 in war bonds, and the Red Cross had access to their Club house as a casualty center. The U.S.O. moved from Wheeler Street to the Woman’s Club in 1943 and used the facility as a social club for its servicemen. The foyer became the writing and reception room; the auditorium, a dance hall; and the solarium was used as a game and cloak room.
During the Second World War the Club also sponsored a day room at the Army’s Camp Santa Anita at Santa Anita Racetrack. Many Club members invited servicemen into their homes on holidays and other occasions and servicemen’s wives were invited to attend Woman’s Club meetings.
Top photo, left: Arcadia City Library 1924. After the Woman’s Club sponsored the first branch of the Los Angeles County Library in Arcadia, the City established its own library at City Hall in 1920. In 1924, the library moved to a small house on Wheeler Avenue. Rosemary Reuter’s watercolor of this library on Wheeler is seen above.
Bottom photo, left: This c. 1922 photograph of Arcadia Woman’s Club members was taken after one of their luncheons in San Dimas, California.
Top photo, right: This Arcadia Woman’s Club garden party (photo above, courtesy Club collection) was given at the home of Samuel Nock on Foothill Blvd. in Arcadia. The luncheon was served at small tables with many club members staying for afternoon bridge. Many of the Club’s meetings had guest speakers including artists, writers, government officials and other notable individuals from Los Angeles and throughout California. c. June 1949.
Bottom photo, right: The Arcadia Woman’s Club House at 324 S. First Ave. c. 1936
Bottom two photographs courtesy of Arcadia Public Library, Arcadia, Calif.
324 S. First Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91006