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Stop 50: The 1926 Dade City Woman’s Club

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1926 Woman’s Club Building from an organization begun in 1910.

 

     At the opening of the $25,000 Dade City Woman’s Club on what was considered the outskirts of Dade City on Palm Avenue and 7th Street in 1926, news coverage was abundant. “The handsome new home of the Dade City Woman’s Club was thronged with a brilliant assemblage on Monday night, gathered together for the formal opening of the building.  Katherine Elizabeth “Dollie” Maynard Hendley, president of the club, welcomed the dignitaries.” She discussed the first club for women in Fort Dade known as a literary club and the 1910 founding of the Woman’s Club in Dade City.

 

In 1909, a group of 15 women led by the first President, “Sallie” Embry, formed the woman’s auxiliary to the Board of Trade. The following year, the women felt they could do more productive civic work as a separate organization. The Woman’s Civic Club of Dade City was organized on May 10, 1910. The name changed one last time to the Dade City Woman’s Club which enabled them to be associated with the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs and become a federated club in 1913. This allowed them to extend their influence and usefulness to the rest of Pasco County and other areas of Florida.   

 

   From there, they were a presence to be dealt with! And should I say remain so in 2023? By the way, a fun historical fact many may now know is that Sallie Embry was fairly closely related to Kentucky pioneer via her husband’s lineage of Daniel Boone so perhaps she exhibited some of his tenacity in her leadership.

 

     Reviewing the history at the dedication of the 1926 building, Hendley talked about the three previous locations that the club occupied in town.  The first location of the Woman’s Club was a small frame building which was sold for a small profit; the building was the old sampling room that had been used near the Dade City Hotel which burned in 1909. Sampling rooms were used for vendors and traveling salesmen to display their products. The Sampling room was purchased for $250 and sold for $450. By 1915, the industrious ladies then purchased the residence of O.L. Dayton for $3,000 at the intersection of Church and 7th  (It later became the site of South State Bank and was previous to that the site of The Pasco Theatre). They remodeled the two-story house for club purposes, paid off the mortgage by 1925 and sold it for $15,000. Taking a bit of a detour, they had hoped to build their new structure at Meridian and 10th, but Irving M. Austin who was developing the College Park  area, offered an exchange, for the property of the current site at 37922 Palm Avenue. Now, she said proudly, we have a “$25,000” fireproof building. 

 

     The building was erected by George Gillespie and the interior decorating was completed by G. C. Newsome & Sons. The lovely building still proudly stands and has been the site of community events, weddings, political debates and all nature of community gatherings. It was fully restored in 2003.

 

     The community-spirited group celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2009. Helen Anne Travis of the Times wrote, “You can get a lot done in a century,” as “the Dade City Woman’s Club once persuaded the City Commission to pass an ordinance banning cattle from roaming the street and leaving droppings in the city’s gardens.” 

 

     Dade City historian, Bill Dayton explained that there were many working women in the early years of the club as he reflected that their advocacy for women was probably the largest in early Pasco County and perhaps the entire region. 

 

    They were very supportive as a group of women’s suffrage but reluctant to speak out until after the passage which they embraced wholeheartedly.

 

    One additional tidbit related to the very first Dade City Flower Show was uncovered. Historians and locals tend to credit the first flower show to the 1947 Dade City Garden Club which you will learn about at Stop 51, but in reality, a garden and beautification club was organized by the Dade City Woman’s Club in 1925 and a flower show was hosted soon after. Ironically Thelma Gilbert who you will read about in Stop 51 also won the sweepstakes prize of the very first flower show in 1930 sponsored by the Woman’s Club. Shh!!! Let’s keep that under wraps!

 

Read More at: Home – GFWC Dade City Woman’s Club (dcwc.org)

  • 1909

    Woman’s Auxiliary to the Board of Trade with President “Sallie” Embry was the initial forerunner of the Woman’s Club.

  • 1910

    Woman’s Civic Club of Dade City was organized on May 10, 1910 as the next stage of development.

  • 1910

    First club for women in Dade City: The Literary Club for Women was organized as the next stage as the forerunner of the Woman’s Club.

  • 1911

    The Dade City Woman’s Club purchased the Salesman Sampling room of the Dade City Hotel (location: Edwinola in 2023) for $250 and sold the sampling room for $450 by 1915.

  • 1913

    Dade City Woman’s Club was federated by Florida Federation of Women’s Club.

  • 1915

    Dade City Woman’s Club ladies purchased the residence of Judge Orvil Limbaugh Dayton for $3,000 at the intersection of Church and 7th (The site of South State Bank in 2023).

  • 1920

    First reception in the second women’s club building on 7th, with a Woman’s Cub membership of 85, and program hosted the Dade City Orchestra.

  • 1920's

    Club buys a site at Meridian Avenue and 10th Street from businessman, John Robert Alonza “J.R.A.” Williams intended for the construction of a new clubhouse.

  • 1925

    Woman’s Club paid off mortgage and sold second location for $15,000.

  • 1925

    Irving M. Austin offered an exchange for the Meridian Avenue & 10th building site in exchange for a location at 37922 Palm Avenue (Austin felt that the new club house would enhance the subdivision being built called Congress Park).

  • 1925

    Club announced that Artemus Roberts would be the architect for the new building (Prairie Style and Mediterranean Revival).

  • 1925

    The Garden and Beautification Cub was organized as a component of the Woman’s Club with flower show and policy advising on open range and plantings.

  • 1926

    Cornerstone of Georgia marble was laid at the Palm Avenue site on January 26 with memorabilia of the club and community.

  • 1926

    The May opening of the $25,000 Dade City Woman’s Club building was a spectacular event. Building was constructed by George Gillespie with interior decorating by G.C. Newsome & Sons and G. C. Scaggs, electrical contractor. Speaker for the evening was Dr. Robert P. Shepherd with topic, “New Civic Opportunities for Women.”

  • 1949

    The first Dade City Garden Club Flower Show was held at at the Dade City Woman’s Club building.

  • 2002

    Designated on National Registry of Historic Places as historic site from the Department of the Interior, National Park’s Service.

  • 2003

    The Dade City Woman’s Club building was refurbished.

  • 2006

    Publish “Something to Crow About” with recipes from members as well as key Dade City restaurants such as: Lunch on Limoges, Kafe Kokopelli and Olga’s (their inaugural cookbook, “A Slice of Dade City” was published 25 years earlier).

  • 2009

    100th Anniversary of Dade City Woman’s Club was celebrated by community and club.

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