What became the Sarasota Woman’s Club began in 1903 as the Town Improvement Society. The Society’s priority was beautification, which remained the first key goal of the Woman’s Club when 63 members first met in 1913. In 1915, the clubhouse, designed by H. N. Hall, was completed and remained as the headquarters of the Club for 61 years.1
Since the Club’s inception, it has been involved in numerous philanthropic activities. The group remains active, but its initial years were instrumental to the success of the then young city of Sarasota. The Club initiated and assisted the construction of parks along the bayfront between Main Street and Ringling Boulevard. By organizing a community work day approved by the mayor, the Club managed 200 men in constructing the parks. In addition, the Club cleared unused lots on Main Street and installed benches, picnic tables, and swings.2
During the Great War, the Club participated in the war effort by coordinating the Red Cross Auxiliary. They rolled bandages, sold Liberty Bonds and Thrift Stamps, and urged women to register for paid or volunteer service for the war. At the end of the war, the Club commemorated the local naval militia by planting water oaks along Main Street, later named Victory Avenue.3
Along with its community involvement, the Club was a center for social activities. It sponsored plays, dances, teas, and fund-raising activities to support the club’s projects. The Woman’s Club also held lectures on topics of the day, presented musical programs, and solicited books for libraries in military training camps. The diary of Ann Hall mentions her involvement in such activities held by the Sarasota Woman’s Club.4
Fig. 1 “Construction of the clubhouse in 1915,” photograph, courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 2 “Sarasota Woman’s Club Postcard,” courtesy of Harriet Burns Stieff, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 3 “The Clubhouse,” digital photograph, taken by Joy Feagan, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 4 “Mother Goose Party in 1916,” photograph, courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 5 “Colonial Tea Party at the Woman’s Club,” photograph, courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 6 “Sarasota Woman’s Club Plaque,” digital photograph, taken by Joy Feagan, Sarasota, Florida.
- “Sarasota Woman’s Club,” Sarasota County Historical Resources, www.scgov.net/History/Pages/SarasotaWomansClub.aspx (accessed March 27, 2015).
- Ann A. Shank, “Woman’s Club of Sarasota,” Sarasota History Alive, http://www.sarasotahistoryalive.com/stories/journals-of-yesteryear/woman-s-club-of-sarasota/ (accessed March 27, 2015).