The Fort Lauderdale Woman's Club was founded on January 11, 1911 with 18 members - by the Board of Trade; we were first called the Woman's Civic Improvement Association. It predated the incorporation of the city itself by two and a half months.
Club was federated by the GFWC in 1912 and on November 28, 1913, the name of the club was changed to the Fort Lauderdale Woman's Club.
Much of the history of the city is intertwined with the history of the Woman's Club. In 1912 Club was instrumental in starting a volunteer fire department, donating $100 for their use. In 1913, club members got out the newspaper for vacationing publishers. In 1917, members began gathering books- housing them in members' homes. By 1925 Club turned over a collection of 1200 books to the city to begin today's public library system.
In 1916, pioneer Ivy Stranahan donated a lot 135 x 100 to build a clubhouse. The clubhouse was designed by the acclaimed architect August Geiger and dedicated in May 1917.
In 1920, a stock and poultry ordinance to keep livestock off the streets was secured. In 1925 the City which was founded on March 26, 1911, built a library building and we donated 1,200 books. We sponsored the first Girl Scout Troop in the county.
In the 1940's during WWII, our members sold so many War Bonds that a pursuit plane was named the "Fort Lauderdale Woman's Club." In 1924 we started an Educational Loan fund for students to borrow money for Education; later the scholarships were given with no restrictions on repayment. We assisted the County Commissioners in securing a comfortable home for the aged called "Haven of Rest" in Dania. Residents were asked to submit a name for the Big World Port - our Club recommended the name "Port Everglades" which was chosen -- now known worldwide.
In October 1982 our clubhouse was the first place winner in the City's coveted Community Appearance Award. We sold 23' of our land to the City for the widening of Andrews Avenue - this money was used to renovate the building - adding a ramp for the handicapped, installing paddle fans, painting, building new front steps and adding double front doors. The entrance hall floor was raised, eliminating a step for security reasons; the restrooms and the kitchen were updated including a new dishwasher.
An Antique Show, started in 1946, attracted dealers from throughout the United States; it was replaced with a Mini-Bazaar when competition and parking became a problem. In 1949 the front entrance was changed from Andrews Avenue to S.E. First Street - the building was remodeled with much of the labor and materials donated - our cost was $22,650. In 1951 an air conditioner was installed making us the first Woman's Club in the State of Florida to provide this comfort. In 1953 a ceremony was held for the Burning of the Clubhouse Mortgage. We raised money for the building fund of Holy Cross Hospital - also helped with monies for dredging the New River. An Allied Youth Post was started by members and continued for many years. In 1969, Virginia Young, a Past-President of our Club was elected City Commissioner, and then Mayor of Fort Lauderdale - the first, and to date the only woman to have held that office. We are Charter members of Broward County Pioneer Days and also a charter member of Special Olympics of Broward County, which was founded to help mentally and physically challenged individuals find a more productive life.
Throughout the late eighties and nineties, active Club membership decreased as older members moved away or to retirement homes, died, or became too frail to participate in Club functions to the extent that they once had done. Younger women were now involved in careers which often precluded Club membership. As Broward County expanded to the west and north, those who did join clubs usually joined clubs in Plantation, Davie, Coral Springs, and Parkland. Our main fundraiser became the rental of the Clubhouse – for parties, weddings, church groups, a music group. We still supported FFWC charities such as Hacienda, Canine Companions, and Special Olympics as well as local causes such as the Jack and Jill Day Care Center and the annual Broward County Pioneer Days. As 2000 rolled around our main thrust became the push to get historical designation for our Clubhouse so we could qualify for grants to restore it to its original beauty. We came close in 2001 but ripples from the events of 9/11 slowed our progress.
Among the proudest achievements of FLWC are in the area of humanitarian concerns. When Ivy Stranahan, the “Mother of Fort Lauderdale,” was our president, she worked through the Florida Federation Of Women's Clubs (FFWC), to advance the rights of all women and of Native Americans and African-Americans. As chairperson of Indian Affairs for the FFWC Ivy had the support of the FLWC in helping to secure Seminole Reservations in the state of Florida. Also, Ivy and her husband, Frank Stranahan, donated land for a school for African-Americans and Ivy served as Treasurer of Provident Hospital, the first hospital to serve the medical needs of Fort Lauderdale's black citizens. Today, our clubhouse is in the heart of a reinvigorated city. It has received historic designation and we are working to restore it in order to prepare for our second century in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale -- at Broward Boulevard and Andrews Avenue in Stranahan Park.
In the year 2010, Club membership totaled 116. Most of these members are now computer literate with e-mail addresses! E-mail has become the chief means of communication. Most members receive the newsletter The Red Hibiscus by e-mail or on the website. In the past year we have supported Heifer International, The Seafarers, Jack & Jill Day Care, Broward Outreach, Hacienda Girls Ranch, American Cancer Society and Women In Distress. In April, 2008 we held our Second Annual Red Hot Hibiscus Gala in our ongoing effort to raise funds for Clubhouse Restoration which began in earnest in 2007. Because of the current economy, it was decided not to have a Gala in 2009 or 2010, but a 100th Birthday celebration Bubble-Q was held on January 15, 2011.
We are no longer pioneers - but we are still interested in making a recognizable difference in the educational, cultural and humanitarian needs of the community and beyond. We celebrated our Club's 100th birthday on January 11, 2011. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler read a proclamation declaring that day to be Fort lauderdale Woman's Club Day!
On Friday, January 14, 2011, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on the stairs of the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club with Mayor Jack Seiler, Vice-Mayor Romney Rogers, Commissioner Bobby DuBose and members of the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club in attendance. The ribbon cutting marked a number of major events for Club, the first of which was the 100th birthday, anticipation of the Bubble-Q on January 15, 2011 to celebrate the beginning of the centennial year of celebration and most importantly, the completion of phase 1 of the renovation of the clubhouse.
Architect Susan McClellan (also a club member), Louis Friend of Friendly Construction and Building Chair Genia Duncan Ellis proudly presented the building to the membership and the public for a viewing at this ribbon cutting which marked the completion of renovations in this phase. It also placed the front of the club back on Andrews Avenue and returned the building location to its original orientation and the street address to 20 South Andrews Avenue.
At 100 years of age, the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club continues their many missions, giving back to the community with a tag line of “a century of citizenship.”
IBC, BWH, HVS & GDE
Fort Lauderdale Woman's Club, Inc.
Location: 20 South Andrews Avenue |
Mailing Address: PO Box 2487 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33303 | 954-761-9407 |