A brief history of our club
In the spring of 1903, a group of Gainesville women met to organize their own club. They were encouraged by the news that a small number of about a dozen women’s clubs across Florida had formed a Florida Federation. The Gainesville club chose the name Twentieth Century Club to express its hopes for a new century of growth in their town of 4,500 people. In 1904 the club joined the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Development of a public library was one of the club’s earliest projects. With an original membership under 50 and dues of 50 cents a year, they used their scarce resources to set up a lending library of a few shelves of books. In 1910 roller blinds and a drinking fountain were purchased for the elementary school. Dues had risen to $1.00. In 1917 club members petitioned the Carnegie Foundation to erect a library building in Gainesville. Then they persuaded the community to support its operation. From these initial efforts, there grew a staggering list of contributions of money and voluntary work for community improvements. From the vision of these lady pioneers, the club has grown to more than 200 members.
Two clubhouses have been built and paid for by club members, the first in 1921 and the present clubhouse completed in 1961. In each instance these building projects required a tremendous effort, far-sighted planning and financial commitment. The present colonial style clubhouse is located on five acres on West University Avenue and is reputed to be one of the loveliest women’s clubhouses in the state. It is the center for a great variety of community activities.
Over the past ten decades, members have gained expertise at fundraising including Antiques Shows, Fashion Shows, Garage Sales, Benefit Bridge and Game Day Luncheons. The popularity and success of these events have made them repeated activities.
The Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs recognized the Gainesville Woman’s Club as the best club in the state for the 1998 club year. Over the years the club has received many awards for their federation related programs and has been named the best large club. In March 2004 members celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Gainesville Woman’s Club.
In 2009, the club received a large financial gift from the estate of Laura Carmichael, a 50 year member of the Gainesville Woman’s Club. A committee was formed to oversee the management of the funds and a portion of the funds was used to renovate the clubhouse. In recognition of her generous gift, the club’s ballroom was officially named the Laura Carmichael Ballroom.
The club has evolved into a complex organization, involving many of its more than 175 members in one or more of its six community service programs and its many committees. Through contributions and steadfast devotion to the welfare of the community, the Gainesville Woman’s Club continues to be a positive force for the betterment of Gainesville.
Our thanks go to Anita Mitchell Tassinari for her contributions to the club history