Bradford Woods Women's Club to celebrate 100th anniversary
Don't be fooled by the flowered hats, long white dresses and demure smiles of the original Bradford Woods Women's Club founders — this was a group of women who knew how to get stuff done.
Members will celebrate the club's 100th anniversary in May and look back on an organization that raised money to build a local school, marched for the right to vote for women and fostered the borough's cohesiveness.
“I think it played an important social role,” said Bradford Woods historian and former club member Ann Jenkins.
“The community was just getting under way then.”
Current club members will celebrate the milestone anniversary at a luncheon May 13 and reflect on service that spans buying bonds to help pay for World War I and World War II to recent donations to groups that help women. Past club members are encouraged to attend.
“Our celebration is focusing on the fact that the club was formed in 1914, and 100 years later, it's still a vibrant club with same of the goals,” longtime member and heritage board chairwoman June McCartney said.
The club now meets in the basement of Bradford Woods Community Church.
In addition to monthly social programs and outings, the club raises money and makes annual donations to groups such as the Bradford Woods Volunteer Fire Company; Crisis Center North; and HEARTH, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter for homeless mothers and their children in Shaler Township.
“It's been an institution. Our community is very tight knit,” said club President Paula Irwin, of Bradford Woods. “The whole community has a small-town feel to it ... The women's club an extension of that.”
Originally called the Civic Club, the Bradford Woods Women's Club was founded by a group of women with suburban summer homes who missed their social lives in the city.
The idea for the Bradford Woods Women's Club came up on Mrs. W.J. McCarthy's porch one “pleasant fall evening” in 1913, according to a club history written by an original member named Mrs. E.E. Kehew. Winter drove the women back to their city homes, but next spring, they returned and formed the club.
“As there are quite a few things to be done in (Bradford Woods), it was decided that the club should be civic in nature,” Kehew wrote.
Litter pickup, the construction of a park, mailbox beautification and promoting the name “Bradford Woods” were identified as some of the club's first priorities.
Early social activities included corn roasts, Fourth of July celebrations and an annual lawn fete that served as a fundraiser for projects in Bradford Woods, which was fast evolving from a collection of summer homes to a year-round suburban community.
Jenkins, who now lives in Columbus, Ohio, said there weren't many roads in the early years, so borough residents couldn't travel far for social activities. That, she said, made the women's club's social activities important to the quality of life in the borough.
“If you look at the club's charter, it was really founded with friendship and civic service in mind,” said McCartney, now of Marshall Township.
In its first few years, the club raised money for the construction of a school and collected books for a library for Bradford Woods, according to the club history.
Several members also became involved in the suffragette movement and spoke to club members about voting rights for women, which inspired many of them to march with suffragettes.
Club yearbooks list programs from the 1940s that include raising money to buy war bonds to help with World War II and making donations to charities benefiting the war orphans.
In the 1950s, club programs included how to introduce families to the newly invented television and “Interesting Facts About Fashions in Furs.”
Through the 1950s and 1970s, club members generally were stay-at-home mothers, though in recent years, the demographic largely has been retired women.
The club currently has 35 members, which, McCartney said, has been consistent for the past decade or so. The club might have disbanded for several years in the 1960s, and it has changed names several times in its 100 year history, she said.
Kelsey Shea is staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 724-772-6353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.