The Woman's Club of Coconut Grove
The Woman’s Club was initially founded in 1891 and dedicated to the enrichment of our community through the promotion of public welfare, education, civic improvement, historic preservation and advancement of the arts and culture; while fostering good fellowship among its members. The Club has served as a social, educational and cultural center throughout its history.
Historically, the Club was - and is - a place where women (and men) came together to forge relationships and create a sense of community through service activities.
In 1891, five years before Miami became a city, Flora McFarlane and the women of Coconut Grove formed the Housekeeper’s Club, a small group of women joined forces to become what we now recognize as the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove.
As a female homesteader and teacher, Flora McFarlane, was keenly aware of the isolation and loneliness of the pioneer woman. As a result, she invited women in the community to take part in weekly gatherings. Her goal was “to bring together the housekeepers of our little settlement by spending two hours a week in companionship and study.” By working together their pioneering spirit built a community. Their motto was “lend a hand.”
Members of the Club have provided service to the community and support for each other for more than 150 years. Their first major project raised funds to build the Sunday School Chapel in 1894; which eventually became Plymouth Congregational Church.
Plymouth Congregational Church
The Club was known as the cultural center of early Coconut Grove, hosting theatrical performances, literary readings, musical entertainment and parties.
Members were engaged in the Everglades conservation, saving Paradise Key consequently, forming a core group of key preservationists as the nucleus of Everglades National Park activists. In later years, the Club provided financial aid for local and national organizations like Casa Valentina, Cancer Survivors, Virrick Public Library, the Hacienda Girls’ Ranch, Canine Companions, and Heifer International.
Additionally, the Club has sponsored the Learn-To-Swim program at the Virrick Pool that taught hundreds of West Grove children to swim. Its Young Artists’ Gallery scholarship program has (and continues to) provided exhibition opportunities and grants for Miami-Dade High School students with well over $4,500 in awards, grants, and scholarships. Over the years the Woman’s Club has proven to be a progressive and forward-thinking safe haven for women to come together, build relationships, and create a sense of community through their civic service activities.
HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF ROYAL PALM PARK
In the 1880s and 1890s many Naturalists explored the Everglades. South Florida was the honeymoon destination for Kirk and Mary Munroe. The Housekeepers Club, founded in 1891, even hosted the 10th Annual Convention of the Florida Federation of Woman’s Clubs in their Coconut Grove clubhouse on January 25, 1905 at which Mary and Edith Gifford presented a resolution to conserve the Royal Palm Hammock as a State Reservation.
In 1914, May Mann Jennings became president of the Federation and took further action to push through the conservation legislation.
In 1915, an act of legislation granted the Florida Federation Royal Palm State Park. Without funding, the Florida Clubwomen raised sufficient dollars, dimes, nickels and pennies to make the hammock ready for the dedication in November of 1916. The Legislative Act stipulated that the Federation must improve, beautify, and maintain the state park. Often forgotten, this bit of history is a good reminder of the collective woman’s voice during a time when women had no voice, vote, or rights.
32 years later, the women of Florida remained steadfast in their resolve and maintained the state park despite brush fires, the 1916 Hurricane, WWI, the Great Depression and World War II. Simultaneously, the Federation actively pursued the formation of a National Park.
Finally in 1947, The Federation deeded their adored Royal Palm State Park to the Everglades National Park. One hundred years ago, May Jennings dedicated the Park to the people of Florida and their children forever.
As a result, historical boards were developed in conjunction with the Everglades National Park in honor of its 100th Birthday Celebration.
Save the Birds
The Story of Royal Palm State Park began with the protection of wildlife.
A Dream Come True
The first proposal for the preservation of Royal Palm Hammock was seeded at the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove in 1905…view the boars.
Save the Swamp!
In 1840 the Florida State Legislature declared that the Everglades could be repurposed and turned into a profitable farmland to learn about the history of the effort to drain the Everglades.
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GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS