Watsonville Woman’s Club 100th Anniversary

Watsonville Woman’s Club gearing up for building’s 100th anniversary.

Watsonville Woman’s Club President Barbara Lyons (second from left) and members are shown in front of the newly draped stage in the club’s Brennan Street building.

In only 17 years after beginning their club, the creative and ambitious women of Watsonville gathered to celebrate the completion of their own club house at 12 Brennan Street. That was 100 years ago!

Many people don’t know that the Watsonville Woman’s Club Building actually has a group of women who are dedicated to keeping this historic piece of real estate alive and in service to our community. The Watsonville Woman’s Club (WWC) is one of the oldest, continuously existing organizations in town and is open to all women. This is the 117th consecutive year for the Watsonville Woman’s Club, as well as the 100th birthday of this majestic clubhouse.

Holding meetings in members’ parlors, and occasionally hosting social events at the local high school, built a strong following for members and community services. The goal of enriching the community soon went beyond the literary and the library. City parks, a public rose garden and leadership with the Red Cross were high on the agenda of activities encompassing the health and well-being of all individuals in the area. Meanwhile, William McKinley was the U.S. President (Republican) and the first to campaign by phone. The Spanish American War happened in 1898, and women in California were lobbying to get paid for their service as teachers.

The first president elected by the Watsonville Woman’s Club in 1899 was Florilla Wickersham. With her team of amazing women, both proactive and forward-thinking, the action began. The WWC founded “for the literary improvement and social advancement of its members and the community” has kept its promise. The clubhouse has been available for the community ever since holding the now famous Tea Party every spring, providing a venue for young musicians to share their talent and receive scholarships. The club will interrupt this tradition this year to honor their donors at the 100th Birthday Celebration on August 26, 2017 from 2-5 p.m. at the WWC.

The 100th Birthday Committee has been busy this summer fixing up the Clubhouse . They have set the stage for the next 100 years with new stage drapes and doors. To be sure that the red carpet ambience is in place a newly slurried and striped parking lot greets members and guests. A new fence will soon be installed adding beauty to the surrounding area. Additionally the kitchen has a state-of-the-art stove. In 1992, the club created their own Foundation in order to receive tax-exempt contributions to fund charitable giving, scholarships and clubhouse maintenance.

By 1917, the WWC with Jeannie C. Tenney as president, had more than 22 members and several subcommittees, including Civic Studies and Home Economics. Meanwhile, Woodrow Wilson was U.S. President from the Democratic Party, and the first to attend a World Series game. The Panama Canal had opened in 1914. By 1917, Wilson declared war on Germany and The National Women’s Party became the first group to picket the White House. Nearly 500 women were arrested, and 168 women served jail time.

The 1899 Journal, found by current President Barbara Lyons and active member Jane Amaral, states, “The object of this club shall be the literary improvement of its members, and the benefit of the public library.”

Remaining dedicated to the mission of sharing our Clubhouse with the community for reasonable rents, providing a social gathering spot for lunch and a program for our members, and contributing financially to the community. Club officers look forward to seeing members and guests for lunch at the next meeting on Feb. 3, 2017 at noon.

For information, you can contact CJ (membership coordinator) at (831) 359-5814 or email cj@ComForCare.com.