Isabella Peacock's Little Chapel in the Pines (1887) also served as the first public school in Coconut Grove. Employed by the School Board in 1889, Miss Flora McFarlane taught the children of the community, even tutored one mother during her lunch break. Aware of the isolation and loneliness of the pioneer women, Flora invited them to assemble after school on Thursday February 19th, 1891. Five women came to join Flora and together they founded the Housekeeper's Club at Biscayne Bay. Elected officers: Secretary - Mary Barr Munroe (Mrs. Kirk), Treasurer - Euphemia Frow (Mrs. Joseph), and President - Flora McFarlane. Founding members: Isabella Peacock (Mrs. Charles), Louisa Newbold (Mrs. Benjamin), and Bethia Peacock (Mrs. Charles John). Three British/Scottish women and three Bahamian women. Membership dues: $.40 per year. Their purpose: First— to bring together the mothers and the housekeepers to spend two hours a week in companionship and study. Second—"to aid the Sunday School Fund." They voted to create small articles of clothing and items for household use to sell at fairs. While the women sewed someone read to them. "Lend a Hand" was the first of many mottos members chose to live by. Women shared at the next meeting how they had put the motto to use in the scattered community.
* Historical Note on Early Settlers to Coconut Grove. Please refer to this at the end of the document.
By August 1892, the women provided dinner for 18 men working on the church land donated by Ralph Munroe. Building began. In January 1893, the Housekeepers held a tea for the benefit of the Union Congregational Chapel. Mary Barr Munroe wrote in her, Daybook on May 31 st, 1893, "Alice Burrows married in the Union Chapel." Alice was an African Bahamian pioneer to Coconut Grove who worked for Kirk and Mary Munroe.
At the November 23rd, 1893, meeting, "Aunt Martha" Peacock (Mrs. Jack Peacock) reported that a piece of land to build a clubhouse had been offered. January 4th, 1894 marked the Housekeepers last meeting in the Little Chapel/Schoolhouse. Sad to leave, the women met in the Union Chapel. Some women proposed to disband the Club, but the majority wanted to continue, promising to work even harder for the community. At the March 1st, 1894, meeting the women decided to work for a clubhouse of their own.
Commodore Ralph and his wife Jessie donated land for the building. Flora McFarlane donated five acres of her homestead to be sold for the Clubhouse Fund. Major contributors included Henry Flagler $100, Harry Tuttle $300 and J. W. Ewan $500. The Clubhouse, with porches, cost $800. Local men constructed the building free of charge.
A legal document, drawn up, advertised and filed, established the Housekeeper’s Club as a corporation according to the laws of the State of Florida County of Dade. The document made it clear that the Corporation “is not being organized_for profit.” Amendments have been filed down through the years.|ljesides promoting “good fellowship” the Club was community-minded. That intent reached out nationally and globally.
In May, the Housekeeper’s Club held an open-house reception for 300 people. The newspaper reported that the Club “is now the owner of an excellent lot facing the Bay” and has “built a commodious home with ample, shady, breezy porches.”
To pay off their debts the women had to rent the clubhouse, the only public hall in Dade County. In June Shakespearean actor Garvin Gilmain offered the Club one-half the profits; the womer agreed on two-thirds. The Club built a stage for him.
In 1900, twice a month the women especially enjoyed their current events discussions called "Talks Over Tea Cups." A lively debate arose about this newspaper statement; "The women of Colorado had deteriorated since they had been given the right of suffrage."
In 1901, the State Federation of Women's Clubs [FFWC] admitted the Club. Mrs. Kirk Munroe thanked the Club for donating their house for the library benefit fair. Kirk Munroe built a wooden library building on land donated by Ralph Munroe. The same year, Kirk moved all the books from Peacocks’ General store and established the Coconut Grove Library Association.
In June 1901, the women held their Annual Tea. In a news article titled "The Good Old Times," Mary Barr Munroe recounted that the highlight of those early years was the Club's Annual Tea, where the women invited their husbands and "President McFarlane had leave to invite every lone man in the county."
The Club sent a delegate to the 1902 and 1903 FFWC Conventions. In January 1904, the Club appointed Mrs. Edith Wright Gifford as delegate. She would be a force not only in the Housekeeper's Club but also in the Federation.
It is not surprising that when Mary Barr Munroe met Edith Gifford they became fast friends. Explorations into the Everglades and endless conversations about Paradise Key and Royal Palm Hammocks resulted in Edith’s far-reaching proposal to the FFWC.
At the 10th Annual meeting of the Florida Federation held at the Housekeeper's Club on January 25th, 1905, Edith Gifford first proposed to preserve Paradise Key/Royal Palm Hammock as a State Reserve. Many members of the Federation's clubs joined the Housekeepers to support the proposal.
In February, the Club invited Mary Barr Munroe to repeat the paper she read at the Convention at the Housekeeper's Club. On February 23rd sixty people came to hear her talk entitled "The Early Days of Club Life in South Florida." At the December meeting, Mrs. Gifford asked the Club to study the current problem of juvenile reform, to find some other way for children to atone for their crimes rather than serving in a convict camp. During the 1906-1907 term, business meetings focused on child labor and treatment of the insane in Florida. After the Education Committee visited six schools, members cleaned the schoolhouses, and encouraged the teachers to promote better pupil attendance. A paper on "Juvenile Courts" included the great role women's clubs had in the courts, helping individual children.
Programs featured history and culture papers: "Later History of Florida" (Flora McFarlane), "Cliff Dwellers" (Florence Haden), "Seminole Women" (Mary Barr Munroe).
Edith Gifford's "Mound Builders in America" spoke of the communal living of clans that claimed descent from the female "woman's power." Edith responded to Mrs. Shackleford's letter supporting the Bureau's creation of the Appalachian and White Mountains National Parks; she suggested extending the Parks south into Florida. March 1908, Edith Gifford reported that the Club had purchased a samovar with money received by subscription; it was used at the Annual Tea as a symbol of hospitality. The samovar remains a treasured object in the Club's collection.
April 5th, 1909 was Flora McFarlane Day. Flora gave a talk on new “scientific” housekeeping.
In February 1910, the Nominating Committee had found no one willing to serve as president but suggested a plan. Flora McFarlane served as president until February 1915. Presiding Officers Mesdames E. R. Williams and Grace Manlove served as president in March and April,1910. Bertha Stewart, Matilda Waldin, Edith Gifford and Florence Haden each served from November 191C through February 1911. In 1911 and each year thereafter, a new vice president was elected.
As chair of the FFWC Forestry Committee, Mary Barr Munroe took on the 2nd National Conservation Congress September 5-8, 1910. When she learned that the women of the Cliff Dwellers Association had succeeded in making Mesa Verde a National Park in 1906, Mary called all Forestry Chairs to a side meeting to discuss ways and means of establishing National Parks.
On Everglades Day February 1911, Edith Gifford gave a talk on the geological formation of the Glades and the state of land companies' operations.
Numerous articles appeared in the 1911-1912 Scrapbook concerning world peace efforts. Miss Lester read extracts from President Taft's appeal to clubwomen to join in his efforts toward world peace.
Sadly, on March 28th, 1912 the Club held a memorial service for charter member "Aunt Martha" Peacock. Mrs. S. J. Kent was introduced to the Club. Minnie Kent went on to serve as president (1924-1927,1930-1932) and historian for over 50 years.
In her 1913 paper titled "Suffrage," Sue V. Moore's strong point was the splendid work that would be done if women could vote and hold office. Mrs. Manlove, in her rebuttal against suffrage, mentioned "domestic friction." Mrs. Haden commented that "women would not change but would change laws."
By the summer 1914 Europe was at war. In the Fall a Red Cross Unit became an auxiliary to the Housekeeper's Club and $50 was allocated for this purpose. It was moved and seconded that the Club be enrolled in the World Peace Army. Mrs. Gifford would moderate Peace Symposiums until the WWI armistice was signed.
The newspaper praised the program by member and accomplished actor Mrs. Little, who portrayed four of Shakespeare's women. Edith Gifford's "Schubert Day" program packed the house and porches.
Mary Barr Munroe spoke about the cruel plunder of the nuptial plumes of the Snowy Egret of the Everglades. She established the Coconut Grove Chapter of the Audubon Society. May Mann Jennings FFWC president urged the clubwomen to write hundreds of letters while her ex-governor husband lobbied the legislature. On April 29th, 1915, one minute before the close of the session, an Act of the Florida Legislature granted the Royal Palm Park to the FFWC.
On November 16th, 1916, the motion to join the Dade County Federation of Women's Clubs was made and carried. Mary Ban- Munroe became their first President. The Formal Dedication of the Royal Palm State Park took place November 23rd, 1916. An impossible dream became reality due to all the women's clubs of Florida working together.
1917-1918 Club Land & Building Controversy
The Clubhouse needed improvements, perhaps expansion onto adjoining lots. President Moore appointed Mrs. Wolley and Mrs. Kent to ask about the status of the Union Chapel which fronted McFarlane. The original Clubhouse was nestled behind what is currently the Peacock Cafe. The Congregational Church organization asked $5000 (one-third down and 8% interest on the balance). Since the Club had raised money to build the Union Chapel and paid off the mortgage, the women may have thought they would be more generous with the terms.
Another option was to ask Mr. Kloeber about the part of his property directly in front of the Clubhouse to the Bay. His asking price was $5500. For a speedy decision, Mr. Kloeber would give almost any terms for payment. Realizing that "this was .the psychological moment for action," President Moore sent five members—Mesdames Gifford, Woolley, Stewart, Paddock and Miss Lester—to meet and discuss terms. After negotiations, Mr. Kloeber made an even better offer: $5000 for all six lots fronting the Bay including the comer of present-day McFarlane Road and Bayshore Drive, where the Peacock store stood for many years.
$5000 dollars was “a most reasonable price for such a desirable property." Assured that the Club would stand behind them, the Committee deliberated. Edith Gifford purchased the property. The Miami Bank and Trust furnished the money.
On April 17th, 1917 for the Housekeepers last meeting in the old Clubhouse, the women dressed in white for a formal group photograph. With much emotion, they said goodbye to the old Clubhouse. In May the building was tom down. Although eager to have a new house built by the fall, the women realized that America was at war: materials and labor were scarce. It was not a good time to build.
The women were heavily engaged in war work, at home and at the Four-Way Lodge, the home of Harriet James: sewing, quilting, knitting and crocheting for the Red Cross. Kate McClure's report to the State Federation dated November 15th, 1917 stated that the Club's auxiliary branch of the Southeastern Division of the American Red Cross was "worthy of these strenuous times." The Club sent boxes containing sheets, pajamas, bed socks, shoulder wraps and hot-water-bottle covers to the headquarters in Atlanta.
Funded by Harriet James, the Plymouth Congregational Church held Sunday Services in December of 1917. The old Union Chapel became a Community Club. The women decided to rent the old building for $150 per year. They met mostly in the courtyard. The December 13th, 1917 meeting adjourned "in honor of Isabella Peacock's funeral held in the old church.
The Congregational Church Organization wanted the Housekeepers to build a house on the Club's "desirable" property and share it as a Community Center with other clubs. They would head the list of subscribers with $1500, leaving $3500 to be raised elsewhere on the condition that the title be vested in a board of three trustees: one from the Housekeepers, one from the Community Club and one from the community at large. The clubwomen agreed only to consider this proposition.
In January 1918, the clubwomen continued to rent the old church to concentrate on Red Cross war relief. Members helped the enlisted men at the aviation camp by keeping the house open day and night. The men could use the space to write letters home. The women provided them with current periodicals and games, as well as a Victrola and piano for entertainment.
Through the War Relief Clearing House in New York City and Life magazine, the Club “adopts" a French baby named Rogen Rebeyrolle. With each contribution of $73, this program enabled orphaned children in France to be kept with their mother or relative instead of in a public institution. The Club kept in touch with Rogen's progress through letters. Club minutes reported:
"Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Haden and Mrs. Gifford have each adopted a French baby."
The Housekeeper's Club was involved in a controversy that resulted from a guest speaker invited to speak by Helen Lester of the Civics Committee. From the speech by Reverend Dr. Spper, the Vicar at St. Stephens Church (also serving Christ Episcopal Church in the West Grove), the Metropolis Newspaper quoted him as stating several disparaging remarks against the Black community of the West Grove. The comments questioned their “moral sense,” and judged them as “absolutely ignorant.” These comments launched an uproar in Coconut Grove. Denials from Dr. Soper, rebuttals by the Bahamian Community and the paper fueled tension. To calm the backlash, Miss Lester wrote to the Metropolis and stated that Dr. Soper had been misquoted in his remarks. The newspaper maintained that they printed a direct quote.
On February 20th, 1919 community activists held a meeting at the old church/community club to launch the idea for a Community Center. On March 18th, a news article reported: "Coconut Grove incorporated last night at a mass meeting.'[On December 4th, 1919 Mr. H de B. Justison spoke as Chair of the newly organized Community Center -LLa club, where there would be an opportunity for teamwork and co-operation.J He felt "that now was the time to organize and carry it to a Successful conclusion^]
On January 20th, 1920, Mrs. Gifford reported that Ways and Means would hold over its building plans, awaiting a decision of the Community Center to purchase the old church and adjacent property to build on for joint club use.
Edith Gifford reported on Miss McFarlane's illness; Flora passed on April 20th, 1920. The Club sent a night message to Flora's sisters in Rock Hill, New Jersey. The following was read'over Flora's grave: "The Housekeeper's Club, in lamenting the loss of its Founder wishes you to know that your sister's name and memory will ever be held sacred in Coconut Grove." Mrs. Kirk Munroe delivered a tribute in loving memory of Flora McFarlane at St. Stephen's Church.
On April 20th, 1921, one year to the date of Flora's death, a memorial pergola with seats would be installed at the Bay Landing (present-day Peacock Park) where Flora first set foot in Coconut Grove. A simple inscription on a tablet would read: "Miss Flora- McFarlane founder and first president of the Housekeeper's Club."
Mrs. Woolley reported that Community Center organizers planned to build a house and "give us a special room to hold meetings and will have a place for our Club's possessions." The women said "No." A motion was carried that "we raise the $2,500 on our own lot," but assured the Community Center that "they could depend on us for $2,000 for their own building."
On November 20th, Mrs. Harvey suggested that we build a clubhouse "on our land as a memorial to Flora McFarlane."
1921 Dedication of New Clubhouse
On October 31st, 1921, members and their families gathered in the new Clubhouse. Mrs. Woolley whimsically suggested "how necessary it was to dedicate the fireplace on Halloween because it was the time of witches, elves and fairies, when they could bring their protection to the hearth." When the fire was lit, the lights lowered, the "Bomb of Happiness" exploded and hurled its parts all over the room. It was thought that those who caught bits of the bomb would be successful.
Olga Kent's Blue Pheasant Tea Room opened on November 16th, with members and friends seated at tea tables arranged on the veranda. Well-known for their home cooking and baking, the Housekeepers also proved creative in newspaper advertising: "The only blue pheasant in captivity is owned by the Housekeeper's Club of Coconut Grove." And this verse:
"A wide shady porch,
with a glimpse of the sea;
the tinkle of talk and the fragrance of tea;
delectable cakes and the sound of soft laughter;
the blue pheasant tea-room in coconut g."
November 17th, 1921, the newspaper gave a detailed account of the official, public housewarming: "Walter DeGarmo designed the new Clubhouse made of native rock in a Spanish architectural style. The main room had a veranda on three sides. The North veranda ran back to the library and the South veranda to the kitchen." DeGarmo's design included an outdoor amphitheater at the rear. The auditorium stage could be opened to the back garden to facilitate outdoor entertainment. "This unique stage is the best of its kind in the state."
President Effie Lawrence loved to travel. She designed an event called a "Trip Around the World." On January 26th, 1922, for $3 a person, automobiles carried travelers to several estates, each' representing a foreign country, with suitable decorations and compelling attractions. At the Club after dinner, but before the dancing, the cast of characters crossed the stage, so that the audience could again see the representatives of each country in costume. "Mrs. Lawrence was proud to announce that the Club raised over $2000 on this occasion." In 1923 over 2000 travelers took a "Tour of the Orient." This event benefited the Club by adding $1980 towards the loans on the building.
On March 15th, 1923, the newspaper reported that the Club's Art Exhibition was "considered by many the best exhibit ever held in Miami or vicinity. It included artists of international reputation." Pictures painted especially for the occasion by Mrs. Maxfield Parrish and Howard Hilder were "barely dry before placed in th1' Clubhouse."
1924-1925 Community Club Controversy Continued
At the April 3rd meeting, President Minnie Kent introduced Mr. Justison, who "in a pleasing way, presented for consideration some plans and ideas that might be adopted for the consolidation of the Housekeeper's Club, the Community Club and the Library Association." Mrs. Gifford moved that "we appoint a committee" to confer with the community club and co-operate in every way, "except to relinquish the title to our property." Those were Edith's last words to the Club.
On November 6th, the Club made a resolution to preserve the open sea view of the Bay by protesting the proposed fill of 1200 acres in front of the property.
On February 18th, 1925, a multitude gathered under the historic palms at Lawrence Park for the "Grand Pageant of History and Progress." On September 13th Cora Wooley, though ill herself, sent a card to President Kent; Edith Gifford was ill and had been admitted to a hospital in New York. "I am fearful that we will never see her back home."
On November 5th, 1925, a "motion was made and carried that we accept, with sincere regrets, Mrs. Gifford's resignation as director of the Housekeeper's Club." The November 12th minutes indicate the "Program was abandoned and the Clubhouse closed because of the death of Mrs. Woolley at her home in Coconut Grove."
Jefferson Bell wrote a tribute to both women for her newspaper: "Death has invaded the Housekeeper's Club and taken one of its finest women in Mrs. Gifford," who passed away Sunday (November 15^, 1925) at a New York hospital. "She was a woman of strong personality, one who never compromised where principles were involved and whose life was given in good works." Due to her vision years ago, Mrs. Gifford had established the Red Cross clinic and health center. Miss Bell's word for Mrs. Gifford was "stalwart." "Just a week ago the Housekeepers lost another fine woman, Mrs. E. E. Woolley, who shouldered the burdens of the Club work for years."
The Executive Board, ambushed during a moment of vulnerability, heard Miss Hart's proposal that the Club sell their property and move to another location. Miss Hart had found several choice plots in Coconut Grove Park. After some discussion, it was moved that the Chair "appoint a committee of three" to investigate the matter.
In March, repairs to the Club, especially the roof, became necessary. Mrs. Kent made inquiries about the work. The Club was asked to visit the Miami Jail and witness the .deplorable conditions there.
A devastating Hurricane hit Miami on September 11th, 1926. The board called a meeting on October 21st to discuss repairs. The roof had openings in several places. Rain and Bay waters that came within two feet of the Club steps caused water damage inside, including the piano. Considering all the storm damages, members turned to Mr. Brigham, holder of the Club's $4000 note and asked for another $2000.
On Armistice Day, the women strongly objected to the "disfigurement of the streets in Coconut Grove" and suggested to Southern Bell that wires be placed underground, or that poles be placed at the rear instead of the front line. The Club sent a resolution to the City Manager.
On April 21st, 1927 clubwomen gathered scraps of material to make clothes for the needy children of the community.
On January 26th, 1928, the program for the annual benefit was a moving presentation of the one-act play "The Bishop's Candlesticks," an adaptation from an episode in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Mrs. George directed the all-female cast.
At a November meeting in 1929 the Executive Board decided to contribute $1 to the school's Free Lunch Fund. Since the Coconut Grove Library was putting on a series of book talks and reviews, the Club offered them the use of the auditorium at any time. The Christmas Sale brought in $105.53. Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen had recently been elected to the U. S. Congress. The President selected a committee of three to study parliamentary law.
By June 27th, 1929, the Gifford Estate indicated it would accept $250 in full payment of the note they had called in. A letter from Mr. Brigham assured the Club he would extend the $6000 loan on the Club property for one year. The Federation President urged all clubs to "sing more at meetings." November 7th, the treasurer reported a deficit of $45.
On December 29th, 1929 President Babbitt felt compelled to report: "I have failed to make the Club's library into the kind of a room 1 have envisioned for it; it continually reverts to the status of a Store Room and I acknowledge defeat." In a letter to Florence Haden, Frances Babbitt confessed; "I cannot work for any organization, struggling under a load of debt, without doing something towards lightening that load; at the same time, I will not be a party to any plan that labors to build the 'body' at the cost of the 'soul'."
At the June 26th board meeting, a letter from Mrs. Jennings stated that the Biscayne Bank had closed. There were repercussions for women's clubs. The FFWC was required by the State to maintain the Royal Palm Park or the Park would revert to the State. The Federation had maintained the Park for 15 years through WWI, and the Hurricane of 1926. Now they had lost their money to the Depression. Mrs. Jennings asked all federated clubs to help make up the loss of the Fund. Sadly, a reflection of the Great Depression, the board had to table that. In 1932, Club member Ruth Bryan Owen, Florida representative to Congress, introduced a bill calling for a national park in the Everglades.
The Club rented the building at discounted rates to support charity events raising money for public welfare needs. The women scraped together money to pay their bills.
During the Great Depression, the Club women carried on with educational talks and projects. After the February 19th meeting, a cake with 40 lit candles was served. Several members had resigned, but 25 Junior members (established August 9th, 1928) came into the Mother Club. Mrs. Kent had arranged re-financing; Mr. Brigham agreed to take a new mortgage for another three years. The Club gave $5 to the Free Lunch Fund at the Coconut Grove School. During the annual luncheon, the Juniors graduated to the Senior Club.
On December 1st, the treasurer reported $21.10 on hand. The members decided to give $5 to the Masonic Square Club for their annual Thanksgiving Basket. Bridge and lunch events continued to bring in some money. A story has come down that Mary Pierce drove to the Miami Farmer’s Market to buy food for the luncheons served to local civic clubs to raise money to pay the Club's bills.
At the January 5th board meeting, the treasurer reported that the balance had risen to $64.67. Mrs. Babbitt sent a resolution to the Anti-Steel Trap League in support of their concern about the trapping of fur-bearing animals. The program included Judg' Godard's book review. On November 2nd, the Club held a press luncheon for writers and editors. Speakers included Miss Jefferson Bell, Mrs. Grace Hall, and Mrs. Massingale.
In April 1935, Mr. Brigham, friend and benefactor, died. He had stated in his will his wish to continue to extend the Housekeeper's Club loan at the same interest. The board reported that a $1000 loan payment had been made as well as a four-year mortgage of $5000 at 5% interest was being drawn up through the kindness of Judge Godard. A reception celebrated Emma Swanson, the oldest living past president's 80th birthday.
The treasurer reported a $500 gift from Flora's sister, Miss Alice McFarlane, and asked for all mortgage pledges to be honored. In March 1936, the chair of the Girl Scout Committee reported the purchase of two new uniforms. The Cookie Week Event would raise money to send a girl to camp. The Club was consistently paying off the mortgage while sending $5 each to the Mother's Clinic and the Children's Home. A motion to change the name of the Club went under discussion. The motion was tabled.
On January 14th, 1937 following a Southern-style luncheon, served by members in costume, Mrs. Stevens reviewed Margaret Mitchell's book Gone with the Wind. Solos by Mrs. Fuzzard further enhanced the southern theme.
At the March 4th meeting members accepted a $130 bid to repair the roof. The treasurer sent $700 toward the mortgage.
The April 21st, 1938 meeting included the annual report. The Education Committee Chair reported marionette and clay modeling classes for the children of the community. The final report on membership announced a total of 133 members. The 1937-1938 Yearbook included advertising to pay for it. No books had been printed between the years 1932 and 1937.
A letter dated September 22nd, 1939 from the American Red Cross Dade County Chapter, stated: "The war in Europe has called into action the Red Cross to administer relief of the wounded and suffering civilians and soldiers." The Club immediately organized work corps to make hospital garments, clothing and bandages.
The Annual Report 1939-1940 determined that the Club pay off the mortgage loan by their 50th Anniversary in 1941.
In May 1940, the board reported that at the Club's Hostessing Day at Burdines Department Store they had received money for the Red Cross. Also, at the Grove Movie Theater, ten members collected money for the Red Cross. In the Club's front yard, women sewed and knitted for the Red Cross. With money raised by bridge tournaments, members worked through the summer to refurbish the Clubhouse for the Jubilee Celebration. Past presidents formed a committee to plan the Golden Jubilee birthday party.
In September it was moved and carried that the board sign an agreement with the city manager "donating not more than seven feet of land for widening the street in front of the club building."
1941 Golden Jubilee
The Jubilee celebration featured a re-enactment of the first meeting 50 years ago. Mrs. Wally Van scripted and directed the scene; she also worked out the stage setting, costumes, and lighting effects. All the members wore Gay 90s outfits to the party. In 1941, Club historian Minnie Kent noted: "A half century in the life of a Woman's Club seems a very long time when one thinks of the different individuals of a community who have been connected by ties of membership at one time and another. Three generations of women have seen this Club rise to this Golden Anniversary. For fifty years the Housekeeper's Club, which we so proudly celebrate this nineteenth day of February 1941, has been the bulwark of service, culture and friendliness in Coconut Grove."
On February 20th, 1942, the Housekeeper's Club staged a free Patriotic Rally on their grounds sponsored by the Lindley DeGarmo Post American Legion, the Civic Club and the Housekeeper's Club. Prominent speakers, singers, a band, and theatrical stars promoted the sale of defense bonds and stamps. This event was part of a week’s campaign throughout the city.
Three hundred people crowded into the Clubhouse on May 7th, 1942 to witness the burning of the Housekeeper's Club mortgage. Judge Godard, the lawyer who had negotiated the extensions on the loan taken out after the 1926 Hurricane, was there. Miss Alice McFarlane gave a gift of $1500 in memory of her sister Flora McFarlane, the Club's Founder. Her generosity made this occasion happen sooner than anticipated. Hundreds of garlands from the Montgomery Estate filled the hall. Mrs. Florence Haden, one of the earliest presidents (1900) burned the mortgage papers in the samovar. Past presidents told highlights of their years of service. The combined reports brought the history of the Club up to the present time, with Mrs. A. E. Gutteridge as president. Emma Swanson, the oldest living past president, could not attend due to illness. On February 18th, 1943, the Club celebrated its birthday. Emma Swanson passed on February 22nd. She had arrived in Coconut Grove in 1890, was the second president (1893-1895) and charter member 1897.
Ethel Murrell spoke on "Women and Legislature and Their Relation to a Lasting Peace." The Club sent two telegrams: One to Senator Claude Pepper commending him on his fine stand on the Equal Rights Amendment for Women; one to Senator O. R. Andrews urging him to vote for the adoption of said bill.
The Club sent a letter thanking the Coconut Grove Exchange - Bank for allowing the Club's War Service Committee to set up a table in the Bank to sell War Bonds. The Committee sent 200 Kit Bags to the Red Cross. The women gathered clothes for the United National Relief Association. At the December 27th, 1945, Executive Board Meeting, “Mrs. Helene Wigman, Bond Chairman, reported that a final Bond Sales amounting to
$350,333, a total of 545 bonds for which the Housekeepers received credit.” The Club gave Mrs. Wigman and her committee a vote of thanks for their fine work.
Mrs. Anne Kelley took the chair as President; she announced the addition of an International Relations Committee and efforts to bring back a Junior group. The board approved the Junior Club o^. young women ages 18-30.
Friends, Dear Mesdames, and the Right Honorable President of the Housekeeper's Club." All expressed their heartfelt gratitude for our generous gifts. The sheer pleasure of a spool of thread for "it is impossible to get anything in Austria." One woman had only one spoon and a small plate to her name, but when she found a place to live, she planned to set up housekeeping again.
At the February board meeting, Mrs. Wells moved that the corresponding secretary write a letter to the president of the Dade County Federation of Women’s Clubs, "asking that the name of our club be corrected in the next issue of the federation directory, as we are justly proud of our chartered name of ‘Housekeeper's Club'." In 1905, Mary Barr Munroe had written in the scrapbook her rationale for the name: "The term Housekeeping means a well-managed-carefully-cared-for establishment of whatever kind for the welfare of human beings."
On March 9th, Mrs. S. J. Kent invited all the past presidents to her home to organize the advisory committee into a working committee. Mrs. Kent and Mrs. Gutteridge, Co-chairs, asked the board for their approval and permission to hold two events for the Club's benefit.
A Herald article of November 21, 1948 read: The Junior Housekeeper's Club has taken on an ambitious program. The Dade County Health Department had been looking for help in their clinics serving mothers and children and the Junior Housekeepers were eager to volunteer.
The International Relations Committee continued to send CARE Packages to Austria. Mrs. S. J. Kent checked Club scrapbooks for their historical value. She asked members with library experience to lend their expertise in their preservation.
At the February 24th board meeting, Mrs. Pierce recommended the Club support the Junior Housekeeper's Club efforts to introduce a bill in the State Legislature to have the, "word 'Illegitimate' stricken from birth records and birth certificates."
At the board meeting on August 25th, 1949 the International Relations Committee reported one truckload and a carload of clothing were collected for their Ecuadorian Relief Drive.
A special meeting on September 14th, 1949 helped the Club raise money to complete the Children's Hospital started in 1939 but stalled during the War Years. Government legislation passed by Congress in 1947 promised to provide $.50 on every cash dollar raised.
On November 30th, 1949 The Housekeeper's Club resolved to elect Junior member Mrs. William B. Roman "Queen of America" for her "untiring efforts" which "resulted this year in unanimously passing a Bill in Florida, whereby adoption and the stigma of illegitimacy will not be revealed on birth records."
On December 14th, 1949, the Housekeeper's Club War Veterans Committee organized a party in the Recreation Hall of the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Coral Gables for soldiers with December birthdays. More than 182 men joined in the festivities for the 44 of their number celebrating birthdays.
The May 25th, 1950 meeting reported a thank-you letter for the three wheelchairs for the Exceptional Children's School. At the'' November 30th, 1950 Board of Directors meeting, Polio and Community Chest Drives asked for volunteers. The Welfare Committee reached 102% of their quota by collecting $7820.90. Committee members also volunteered their time and energy to the Cancer Fund, Cerebral Palsy Drive and Ecuadorian Relief.
On February 1st, a letter from the St. Alban's Nursery thanked the Club for eight cots, purchased from the profits of the rummage sale. Women of the Welfare Committee volunteered many hours working at the St. Alban's Nursery. The Educational Department sponsored a book booth at the Club's Bazaar, after which 100 books were donated to the West Grove's elementary schoc" library.
At the August 7th, 1951 meeting, members favored the GFWC reporting on Korea: "We voted to undertake a campaign to raise funds to send 150,000 CARE packages to the most destitute of the Korean war victims. You will recall that we have four and one-half million clubwomen in Korea who are affiliated with our organization."
Indicated in the Minutes of December 27th, 1951: The Club received a letter of thanks from the GFWC, "for our donation of CARE packages to Korea."
On April 3rd, 1952 Mrs. Tate announced that Mrs. J. L. Kelley won 3rd place in the State Poetry contest with her sonnet to Flora McFarlane, Founder of the Club. Mrs. Kelley recited it for tk members. The sonnet is printed in the 1974-1975 Yearbook.
During the Summer, the Executive Board voted to renew the Club's gift of $60 for milk for St. Alban's Nursery.
On December 4th, 1952, a letter from the March of Dimes asked our cooperation in the Mothers March on Polio event.
On April 20th, 1953, a letter from the Board of Directors and the Campaign Cabinet presented the Club a Special Award from the Community Chest of Dade County.
At the March 4th meeting 1954 the Nominating Committee offered their slate, headed by Mrs. Gutteridge for President. "Fixed the roof." was reported at the March 23rd meeting. The Juniors decided to repair the driveway. A file titled "1954- 1955 Civil Defense Press" contains some horrific material. Here are a few headlines from The Miami Herald [H] and the Miami Daily News [N]
Denver—(AP)—Deadly Nerve Gas Made in Rocky Mountains More Effective than Atomic Weapons [N]
Atomic Bomb Simple To Rig Says Navy [H]
Tokyo—Japanese Fishermen Say They Find More Radioactive Tuna [H]
How To Survive [N]
What You, a Woman, Can Do To Prepare. Civil Defense—a Job for Every Housewife & Clubwoman [H]
Pilotless Bomber Squad Ready For Business [H]
Miami Will Evacuate 250,000 In H-Bomb Test [H]
Don’t Fret about A-Bomb Fall Out [H]
H-Bomb, A New Power of Men: What Wisdom There? [N]
In 1955, the Welfare Committee sponsored various projects: Summer camp funded for eight boys, wheel chair to four-year-old boy crippled with polio, new shoes to crippled children, St.~ Alban's Nursery, Haven School, Red Cross, Community Chest, Old Folks House at Kendall, Lend-a-Hand Christmas for children.
Mrs. Tilney was installed as president at the April 28th luncheon meeting at the Fontainebleau. At the May board meeting Mrs. Certain moved that the Club send a letter to the Miami Transit Co. that the Club was "in accord" with anything to alleviate present traffic conditions.
Miami Daily News September 13th: 1955 Junior Housekeepers continued to work as aides to the Crippled Children's Commission at Variety Children's Hospital, providing receptionists, transportation and recreation for children. On November 10th, 1956 Junior Housekeepers presented "Fashions Under the Stars'
at Vizcaya Art Museum, proceeds to go to the Crippled Children's— Commission at Variety Children's Hospital.
1956 The Juniors
In 1948 President Anne Kelley had re-established the Juniors as a separate group. Through the 50s they were a hard-working, civic- minded group of women and the senior women were proud of their affiliation. Since both groups shared the same Yearbook, archives noted a startling change in the 1956 book. In the Junior By-Laws Membership Qualifications read: “Membership shall be limited to white women, eighteen to thirty-five years of age”
The senior’s side published the 1916 Amended Charter where membership qualifications read: “Any woman in good standing in the community.”
1957 The Housekeeper's Club Change of Name Resolution:
"Whereas, The Advisory Board of the Housekeeper's Club consisting of its past presidents, in a meeting assembled with eight of its 13 members present, February the 13th, 1957 for the purpose of constructive thinking for the future good of the Club, unanimously agree that a sacrifice must be made in order to more extensively further its ideals; be it resolved, that this board, believing it to be for the best interest of the Club, especially in view of the fact that younger generations may not comprehend the significance which we earlier members attach to the beloved and historic name of the Housekeeper's Club recommend, with reverent reluctance, that the charter of the club be amended by striking out ‘Housekeeper's Club’ and inserting 'The Woman's Club of Coconut Grove, Florida, Originally the Housekeeper’s Club.’”
At the April 4th, 1957 meeting of the Senior Club, the proposed amendments to the charter came to a vote by the membership. On the draft, Article IV (membership qualifications) a caret indicated the word white be inserted before “woman of high moral standards....” The Minutes show no discussion on this point. This should never have been allowed to happen. Rosa Parks had been arrested for not moving to the back of the bus which ignited the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King led non-violent marches in Selma and elsewhere. In the 60s our government enacted Federal laws regarding racial segregation.
The Minutes show that Article I (the name change from Housekeeper’s to Woman’s) may have been the overriding issue? During the meeting, a motion to allow voting by mail was lost. A motion to allow a written vote carried. The voting results of the 45 members: 33 in favor, 11 against and 1 blank.
The Club published the 1957 Amendments in the 1957-’58 Yearbook. The first page read: “First Annual Program of The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove.” The Officers recalled this yearbook. The title page made it appear that the Club was only a year old, erasing almost 70 years of the Club’s history. All members returned their copies and all copies were retrieved from affiliated organizations.
The “Sixty-Ninth Annual” 1958-59 Yearbook published the Original 1897 Charter, followed by a statement about the many revisions right down the fifty-something years to the legally enacted April 15^ 1957 Name Change Amendment plus reemphasizing that the “traditional charm of the above original charter, untouched by its later amendments, shall forever be a priceless heritage.” This statement, signed by thirteen living past presidents, is followed by the entire 1957 Amendment including the contentious “name change” and the disturbing white women membership qualification Articles. [Archivist Note: all of which has this Archivists head in a spin, heart in a flutter and gutlings in an uproar. Stay calm and read on.]
A motion was made by Mrs. Tilly to gather and to organize our records in order to preserve our legacy and history. Mrs. Raleigl Blackwelder was made the chairman of the committee. The Club voted that champagne be allowed to be served at weddings for a fee. The Club showed continued support of the armed forces by becoming involved again with the USO.
Under the continued fear of communism sweeping through the country, Mrs. Kelley offered a recommendation for parliamentary instructions to be offered to members for a small fee. “Democracy at work on die assembly level for national protection through greater moral strength on the community level.” The motion was carried, and classes began. Mrs. Morgan suggested Series E Bonds be purchased for setting up a contingency bind for the Club. Two events, Mother Daughter Luncheon for the Club’s 67th Birthday held at the La Casita Tea Room and a Fashion Show at the Riviera Country Club were a great success. Card parties in homes to raise money for the Club continued and became a steady generator for funds.
The Club continued to support the community and many charities, such as Heart, Cancer and Mental Health Foundations in the form of donations. Card games, cotillions and pageants were the main events to generate funds during this year. Members backed a state resolution regarding the reading of the Bible in the Public Schools, the speaker of the International Relations Committee, May Callander, spoke on Dr. Henry Dahlberg’s theme “Our Christian Heritage.” Hawaii became a state and a motion was carried to wait for our new Club flag to be one flown over the United States Capitol. The Club offered refreshments for the USO.
President Louise Eayrs stressed to the Club members to get out and vote. The Club is one of the first clubs in the area to organize relief for the victims of the Chilean earthquake and tsunami. Governor-Elect Farris Bryant, addressed the October meeting: “Stressing decent literature, teaching and practicing obedience to the will of God, from the cradle up.” Two needy families were selected to receive help at Christmas with clothes, food and toys. The Club also held a party for Veterans. Gifts were arranged for the elderly people in our area with no families nearby. Civil Defense classes began.
Mrs. Irredell received a personal letter from President Kennedy thanking her for her work in combating communism. A motion was made by Mrs. Sprague for Bingo parties to raise money for the Club. Parliamentary classes and veterans’ parties continued. The USO gave the Club a citation in recognition of distinguished service to the men and women of America’s armed forces.
At the Club’s 70th Birthday the Club members dressed in period clothes and had a wonderful time. In February, The Miami News printed the headline: “The Birthday Music Was Plum Loco.” The Miami Herald printed an article about the Club’s original wooden building: “The original contractor promised the building for $375 without porches and $800 with. Thanks to Mrs. Henry Flagler and Miss McFarlane’s financial assistance, they got porches!” The Art Show was a great success with over 100 guests.
Mrs. Bums gave the Club an antique Bible to be prominently displayed at all meetings. The Club endorsed a state resolution that the Bible be read in Public Schools. The Club also carried a motion to adopt a resolution to the effect that quote: “No known Communist be given space for making speeches in any state-supported buildings in the state of Florida, or any Florida State tax-supported facilities, for purposes of meetings or gatherings.” Mrs. Cole urged the Club to support an amendment which stated that there would be no irresponsible purchase of guns by mail.
The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove received three Certificates of Appreciation: For Outstanding Support of Vital Community Services by the United Fund of Dade County, Literature and Drama Division of Fine Arts, and Honor Roll by the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs. The Arts Festival of Coconut Grove asked us to participate as cashiers for the artists during the event. While the Miami Dade Library System renovated their building, the Club housed the Coconut Grove Library in our clubhouse.
The Club’s Diamond Jubilee generated enthusiasm, and a committee was formed for preparation for the event. A final sparkle of the 75th birthday was that the Club’s own Miriam Davis was elected to be president of the Dade County Federation of Woman’s Clubs. The Club’s Diamond Jubilee was held on February 17. Members dressed in period dresses to commemorate the anniversary of the Club. The Miami Herald interviewed Mrs. Effie Lawrence Marshall, Club president in the early 1920s, and~ author of several books. She spoke about her friendship with Susan B. Anthony and others in her early Suffrage and Temperance work, as well as her ongoing work with our Club. The first Lest We Forget entry appeared in the 1966-67 Yearbook.
The Club, concerned over the decline of the Grove, moved to urge the town to clean up Bayfront Park, beautify the Post Office, and the Fire Department. The Club, in turn, began the process by improving the lawn.
1966 Amendments to the Original Charter
In 1966, all not-for-profit Articles of Incorporation/Charter documents were moved from Dade County to Tallahassee. At tha.— time, the Woman’s Club petitioned the State, in writing, to amend four articles. Article IV was not one of the articles changed.
Membership Qualifications remained: “white women....” The Club added Article V to the By-Laws. “Qualifications for membership shall be high moral standards, interest in furthering the objectives of the organization, loyalty to the principles of the organization and to those of our nation.”
However, the women may not have realized that the State Bureau of Corporations does not keep By-Laws because they change frequently. Individual clubs add to or amend By-Laws anytime and as often as they wish and need to submit them only to the club’s membership for approval. But the Articles of Incorporation are open to the public.
The women established a continuing project to furnish and decorate the family waiting room in the Emergency Department of Jackson Memorial Hospital. The room was dedicated to Club member Ethel Hood, a retired registered nurse. It was designed as a quiet room where a family struck by tragedy might have privacy with their doctor and clergyman.
The Club endorsed legislation for the enforcement of laws to control child molesters and traffic safety legislation by sending letters to 15 legislators. The 1967-1969 Yearbook was dedicated to the Club’s oldest member Mrs. Effie Lawrence Marshall, who had been a Club president in the early 1920s and was actively involved in Suffrage and Temperance movements. After a year of constant minor repairs, fumigation and renovations, the Club set up a Renovation Fund for the building’s improvement.
As the building aged, a new building was considered, but this endeavor was shelved. The money raised was subsequently channeled towards the recently formed Renovation Fund instead. A loan was taken out to continue the work necessary to preserve the Club building. Encroachment issues arose with the property line when the Sailboat Bay Apartments were built next door. At a Club board meeting with the City of Miami Buildings Department, the representative of the City advised the Club to build a fence to secure their property. Club officers asked for permission to build a four-foot stone wall.
Money was raised in order to furnish an Adoption Room in the Children’s Home Society, to afford a place for parents to receive their child. Renovation of the Clubhouse included exterior and interior painting, two new restrooms, and an enlarged kitchen with adjacent pantry. In 1970, a new public address system including a lectern was dedicated as a memorial to Elsie Davis. Miriam Davis was elected Treasurer of the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Nearby, the rock band The Doors performed at Dinner Key and the ladies of the Club were outraged. They called the event “the most devastating demoralizing low of the finer things of community life,” as well as “a most shocking performance.” They organized a petition along with all the woman’s clubs in the area to be sent to the City of Miami to ban these kinds of performances in the community. Kitchen renovation began.
The growing influx of “hippies” in the Grove became an issue as they began sleeping on the balcony of the library and storing their belongings on the Club grounds. Judge Huttoe spoke at a Club meeting about the growing drug wave due to the prevalent use among them. The Club notified the owner of the Sailboat Apartments was that his tenants were throwing their trash onto our roof. He asked and was denied permission for his tenants to park overnight on our grounds. They continued to use our lot. The Club sent a letter, notifying owners that they would be towed.
Members were urged by Mrs. Mueller to write letters to the Government of North Korea in protest of the treatment of American Prisoners of War. They were “in violation of the Geneva Convention.” President Mary S. Pierce suggested that our Club should sponsor a program about our Civil Rights and have an attorney talk on the subject.
At our 80th Birthday commemoration, the Mayor David Kennedy, dropped by with a Proclamation from the City of Miami declaring the day “The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove Day. Member Gertrude Kent dressed as our founder, Miss McFarlane and told stories about her not mentioned in previous years.
1972 “The times they are a changin’.” Bob Dylan
In 2018, the decision to expand the LEST WE FORGET document required further research. Work at the Florida Room in the Main Public Library uncovered a folder of newspaper articles from the early 70s on women’s clubs and their “white only” qualification for membership. These articles no doubt caught the attention of clubwomen especially when Margaria Fitchtner put her pen to paper for the Herald.
Fichtner had reported in March of 1970 that “the Greater Miami Section of the National Council of Jewish women resigned from the Dade County Federation of Women’s Clubs in protest over the federation’s white-only membership clause.” The Council had been a member for two decades. When asked why it took so long to resign, the Council’s president “admitted that nobody in the section had really paid any attention to the federation’s constitution until about two years ago.” The Dade Federation was affiliated with the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs (FFWC) that had an “all-white clause [in their Articles of Incorporation] since the early 1950s.” The Miami News reported that the FFWC parliamentarian stated, “A club can change its by-laws any time it wants.”
The Miami Springs Junior Woman’s Club, led by their President ~ Mrs. Richard Sepler, thought it was time for the FFWC to change its stance on discrimination. They sent to the FFWC By-Laws committee several proposals for changes at the April 1971 FFWC Convention. At the Convention, the proposal to raise their age limit to 40 passed. But the proposal on the “All-white” membership qualification did not even come up for discussion.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the US that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirement, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. No discussion. The words of Martin Luther King Jr. and non-violent Civil Righty protesters ongoing, unheard and disregarded and not discussed. Two women, Mrs. Sepler and Representative Cherry of the Florida House were about to make change on this issue of white women only member of women’s clubs.
In April 1972, Fitchner (Herald) reported that the FFWC narrowly defeated the removal of the word “white” from its membership clause. Present at the Convention was “Mrs. Richard Sepler, who last spring had stirred up a controversy when she tried unsuccessfully to get the white-only issue onto the floor of the 1971 convention in Jacksonville.” Representative Gwen Cherry stated that she would redouble her efforts during the legislative session for the passage of the Sepler Bill to remove tax-exempt status on properties owned by groups and corporations within the state which discriminate on - the basis of race. This would affect FFWC affiliates that own clubhouses.”
Meanwhile, back in Coconut Grove, President Barbara Keller called a special meeting July 11, 1972 at Noon. According to the minutes Keller informed the membership that the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Richard Pettigrew, had suggested that our Club amend Article IV of our charter before we appear before the Tax Board and petition for tax-exempt status. Miss Olga Kent read the amendment that the revision Committee recommended. ‘Qualified for invitation to membership shall be women of high moral standards interested in furthering the traditional objectives of the Corporation, and whose allegiance to the ideals of the Republic of the United States of America is assured.’ Miss Kent moved the adoption of the amendment to the Charter. There was no discussion. Motion was carried unanimously. Meeting adjourned at 12:20 pm. The Amendment was sent to the State of Florida and filed on July 28, 1972. [It appears in full in the 1973-1974 Yearbook]
The May 6th 1973 issue of the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel reported that at the FFWC convention “The glaring ‘white only’ qualification for membership has been removed.”
Journalist Kay Metzcher went on to say, “But from all indications it’ll be a long time, if ever, before blacks and whites share the rosters of woman’s clubs in Florida.” It took the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove 35 years. In December 2008, the Club voted to welcome Sherrill Martin. She became the first African American member of the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove. This was a long journey back to balance. The balance of the pioneer people who knew that it takes people with all sorts of talents to build and sustain a community in an unforgiving land. The journey continues as our world and environment change. We go on and on.
[Archivist Note: On file there is a fat folder regarding the Charters and Amendments as well as a thin folder with the early 70s Newspaper articles on the “white women only” issue. You are welcome to study them. Bring Turns.]
The clubwomen conducted Historic Bus Tours for the Coconut Grove Centennial Celebration. In October, more than 100 former members of Dade County’s Girl Scout Troop No. 1 celebrated thei fiftieth anniversary as the Club’s guests. At the request of the City ~ of Miami Public Works Department, the Club donated sufficient space for two lanes of South Bayshore Drive to curve into McFarlane Road. In 1974, the final mortgage payment was made on a loan for improvements to the Clubhouse in 1969.
To recognize its significance and to encourage its preservation, the Club was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. The Honorable Bruce Smathers, Florida Secretary of State, presented President Jane Driver with the certificate at Miami City Hall.
From proceeds of the Club’s participation in the Coconut Grovc^_ Arts Festival the women established a Nora Tilney Scholarship At the Bicentennial Celebration, the Coconut Grove Garden Club, assisted by Troop 1 Girl Scout Brownies, planted a Liberty Tree on the Club’s grounds. Having sponsored nursing scholarships in the past, the women reactivated The Anne Kelley Nursing Scholarship.
Mr. Herbert Hill donated his time and labor to clearing the yard and pruning the lovely old trees and shrubs. The women made him an Honorary Member of the Club. In honor of the Club's eighty seventh birthday, the Historical Association of Southern Florida erected a bronze historical marker. The program held in the yard dedicated the marker to the Club's pioneers. Dr. Thomas W. Phillips of Plymouth Congregational Church gave the invocation and benediction. Mrs. E. D. Pierce, past President of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, brought greetings to the Club. The women served birthday cake and coffee in the Clubhouse following the program.
Club Historian, Miss Olga Kent, through the support and cooperation of the Historical Association of Southern Florida and the Dade County Library System, microfilmed the minutes of the Club since its inception. These records are now on file in the Main Library. Support of the Coconut Grove Crisis Nursery has continued. The Club established a building restoration fund.
Renovations included a new flat roof, painting the interior of the main room, and putting a chain link fence around the back and side of the property. Support of the Crisis Nursery continued. Thirty-two new members were welcomed. The Coconut Grove Garden Club began a project to landscape our back yard.
The Nursing Scholarship at Jackson Memorial Royce School of Nursing increased. The Clubhouse was placed on the City of Miami Heritage Conservation List. Two driveway gates were installed in memory of Anne S. Hallam. The 1982-1983 yearbook has the last mention of the Junior Club. They had served the community for thirty-seven years.
Mrs. Louise Eayrs created a $5,000 Perpetual Memorial Scholarship in the Dade County Federation of Women’s Clubs in memory of Mary S. Pierce.
The women installed a new driveway and began landscaping the front yard. Trustees Barbara Keller and Penny Reid established The Mary S. Pierce Memorial Fund.
To celebrate the General Federation of Women’s Clubs’ Centennial in July 1990, each state sent in nominations for “Women of the Decade.” Our President, Jane Driver, submitted _ three outstanding Coconut Grove women to the Florida Federation: for the Arts - Helen Muir; for Human Concerns - Elizabeth Virrick; and as Volunteer - Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. The FFWC selected our club’s nominee, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, as the Volunteer of the Decade.
At a luncheon held at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, Herbert Hiller gave a talk on the “Season of Innocence," a story of thd Munroe family at the Barnacle in early Coconut Grove. Hiller noted that Commodore Munroe, one of our Club’s benefactors, contributed in many ways to the growth and wellbeing of the community.
Our women made a donation, in the name of the Club, to the DCFWC President’s Project: an automatic blood pressure monitor, for the Emergency Trauma Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Club also made contributions to the American Children’s Home, Miami Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Hacienda Girl’s Ranch, and to the Fiesta Benefit for the UM Medical Scholarship Fund.
In 1991 the Club celebrated their 100th year anniversary with a truly unique historical program by turning back the clock to the 1891-1941 era, augmented with old-fashioned costuming and native floral decorations from members' homes. In 1992 members, under the direction of President Penny Reid and Club member and quilter, Anna Reeves, supervised our members in the making of baby quilts for the ABC quilt program. Their Florida representative came to a meeting at the Club at which our members presented her with the quilts, bringing the number of quilts made in Florida to one thousand. The quilts were given to abandoned babies and babies with AIDS.
On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc on the Clubhouse, destroying the roof, windows, gates, yard, trees, and the Historical Marker. The insurance coverage was insufficient, so Club member Jane Driver applied for a grant from the State of Florida that was awarded. By 1994, most of the damage had been repaired. Annually, the Club donates both time and money to the Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Royce Nursing Foundation, and Christmas toys for needy children. In March 1993, past President Louise B. Eayrs’ estate willed $385,000 to the Royce Nursing Foundation for educational purposes. This came about as a direct result of the Club’s association with the foundation. Thanks to Club members Kathryn Hanafourde and Anna Reeves, the Coconut Grove Garden Club refurbished the bathrooms and planted new coconut palms.
With Beth Hartley as President, the Club established and maintained a library at the New Life Family Center with nearly 500 books for children and adults. The Club also contributed toys and videos for their daycare center. The Club offered a yearlong program on money management to members and friends, sponsored the Kaplan Players by providing rehearsal space and opened the Clubhouse to the public for the Dade Heritage Trust meeting, “Making Coconut Grove Home.” The Club sponsored a yearlong lecture and on-site tour series in celebration of Miami’s first 100 years. The Centennial Lecture Series was designated as an official City of Miami Centennial Event. The Club received a second restoration grant, thanks largely to Jane Driver. The Club continued to support the Salvation Army, R.O.C.K. Camp for youngsters with cancer, Special Olympics, DCFWC Fiesta, and Hacienda Girls' Ranch. In this two-year period, the Club doubled its membership.
The Club’s long-awaited restoration was undertaken, thanks to the Villagers, Inc., a restoration organization who generously awarded our Club $40,000 to begin the project. Mutiny on the Bay, Inc. also made a generous contribution of $100,000 towards this effort. The completed Phase One project included total concrete and truss repairs, installation of new upper clerestory windows, complete re-roofing and updating the electric from 60 amps to 300 amps. In addition, the kitchen and pantry were painted, and new ceiling fans were installed in the great room and the front porch. The Clubhouse met fire code regulations by adding a new exit door and two lighted exit signs.
We continued to make contributions to Hacienda Girl’s Ranch, Canine Companions for Independence, American Citizenship, Everglades Youth Camp, R.O.C.K. Camp, March of Dimes Samaritan’s Purse and The Salvation Army. In our immediate community, the Club continued to support the Coconut Grove Barnyard After School Learning Disability Program and The Coconut Grove Food Bank. Books and toys were donated to The New Life Shelter at Christmas. Our biggest fundraiser, The Renaissance Banquet, initiated by President Beryl Taylor and member Althea Kaplan, continued to be successful. Our newest fundraiser, The Pantry/Yard Sale, did well. Thanks to the efforts of Charity Johnson and Mildred Merrick, we were granted our 501 (c) 3 tax status. Membership, which is a Club priority, was increasing.
The Clubhouse housed The Coconut Grove Library at no charge for three months during the summer of 2000. While closed for building renovations, the library could continue service for the community.
Charity Johnson, Joyce Pippo, Dolly MacIntyre and Lynn Lieberman spearheaded the ambitious Young Artists' Gallery and preview reception held during the three-day weekend of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. They “wanted to make the building more useful to the community and wanted the young people to be valued as artists.” It was held at the Clubhouse in February 2001 and 2002 to exhibit artwork of public high school students throughout Miami-Dade County. Through the generous financial support of Coconut Grove Bank and the Alex and Agnes O. McIntosh Foundation, the Club awarded more than $2,000 in scholarships, cash prizes, and gift certificates, while providing a venue for hundreds of students from 33 high schools to exhibit and sell their art.
Also, during the Summer months, the Club initiated and funded a free Learn to Swim program in cooperation with the City of Miami Parks Department for Coconut Grove children ages 3-12. More than 300 children learned to swim during two Summers at the Elizabeth Virrick Pool.
Because of a $150,000 grant received from the State of Florida Historic Preservation Bureau, building renovations included the kitchen, conversion of the caretaker’s apartment to an office an< boardroom and the installation of air conditioning and new windows.
The Clubhouse opened each Wednesday from 10 to 2 for Housekeepers' Day. A dozen or more members and guests gathered for a casual lunch to sew, organize the pantry, discuss issues and any other matters of concern. The Clubhouse was also opened on Tuesdays for art classes taught by a Club member and again during the summer of 2002 for an Art Camp for Kids. The Club's presence in the community was further felt through its involvement in lobbying the city and county officials to preserve public parking at a new garage next to the library. These community activities, along with such fund-raising events as a yard sale, brought an increased awareness and interest in the Club, which experienced a 20% increase in membership.
Membership continued to grow as we hit the 100 mark. The Third and Fourth Annual Young Artists' Gallery event grew in quality and prestige, hi 2004 Gap, Inc. contributed a $5,000 grant for scholarships and awards for the young artists. Coconut Grove Bank continued to be a sponsor, as well as the Sain-Orr Foundation. In 2003, we added a specialty book sale, focused on art, architecture and antiques. In 2004, the Club added cookbooks to the mix and sold hundreds of books and added an Antiques Tent.
The Learn-To-Swim Program continued with 1,000 children passing through the program since its inception. Adult classes were offered as well. In cooperation with the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, graduates of the swimming program were introduced to boating on the bay. In 2003 and 2004, Club members participated in all three levels of the Arts and Crafts Show. In 2003, the Club won 15 blue ribbons and two best in' show at the District level, along with the first place Club award. At the state level, one of the members won the Faubion Award of Excellence.
The University of Miami School of Architecture developed a landscaping plan for the Club property. Archival conservation begun in the '90s by Mildred Merrick and Amy Goodhart continued in earnest to preserve our valuable archives and to make its contents available to historians and scholars. We continued to support the Dade County Federation of Women's Clubs and the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs by sending representatives to meetings and supporting the Presidents' projects and other charitable outreaches.
The good works and projects of the previous administration continued during this time. The copying of the archives was completed and the original documents and photographs of the Housekeepers Club from 1891-1957 were turned over to Special Collections at the University of Miami Richter Library. The Club was very active in renting its facilities for private parties and was able to meet its financial obligations.
This administration had three presidents. When Lee Pinto and Joni Chander resigned Arlyn Phillips stepped in to complete the term. The filing and settlement of a lawsuit dominated the Club’sbusiness operations. The Plaintiff, Mr. Donald Felman, a well-known Coconut Grove resident in a wheelchair, claimed that he was denied access to the Clubhouse that he was deiied access to the Clubhouse for a public event because the facil ity did not meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The Club hired an attorney who negotiated a settlement that required the Club to make all necessary renovations to meet the ADA standards.
An ADA consultant worked closely with volunteer architect, Richard J. Heisenbottle, a specialist in historic buildings. Our building closed for public use from July 2007 to October 2008, the duration of this extensive renovation project.
The Coconut Grove Sailing Club hosted our monthly membership meetings. Our membership engaged in an active fund-raising campaign, raising $100,000. The outside component of the YAG event raised a record $25,000 towards the renovations. We obtained a $200,000-dollar line of credit from the Coconut Grove Bank, of which $163,000 was used for the project. Construction involved new bathrooms, plumbing, water fountains, front and side doors and fixtures. Workers installed a sidewalk, handicap ramp with extensive railings, a new water main line and plumbing under the clubhouse. Inside, they refinished the hardwood floors, laid tile flooring in the porch and kitchen and repainted the interior. All this work cost the club $263,000.
Under the direction of President Nancy Boggio, we completed renovations to make our Clubhouse handicapped accessible according to ADA requirements. In an effort to pay down the bank mortgage for this project, Anne MacDonald Korth and her finance committee approached Marc Samoff and the Miami City Commission approved $50,000 for infrastructure improvement ' to the Clubhouse. Nancy guided the rigorous process of selecting a management company to boost our rentals and negotiated an agreement with Coconut Grove Events.
The Coconut Grove Arts and Historical Association contracted to lease the building the week of the Festival. Our annual event, the Young Artists Gallery (YAG), had to be moved to a later date. The Korth Family Foundation established a scholarship fund for the young artists.
At the December 2008 meeting, the Club installed as a member Sherrill Martin, of African-American and Native- American Creek Heritage. As librarian at the Coconut Grove Library Sherrill had worked with Club members Dolly McIntyre,.. Arlyn Phillips and Judy Dudek on the book sales event during the Art Festival. She had come to a meeting in 2005 at the invitation of Judy Orr, former librarian. During President Marlene Erven’s first term, Sherrill served as Recording Secretary. Since 2016, Sherrill has encouraged members with her monthly inspirational messages and co-chaired the Senior Party Committee. Sherrill is an active member of the Human Trafficking committee.
Dade Heritage Trust included our building on their tour led by Paul George during Dade Heritage Days. The Bahamas Association of Social Science Educators made a field trip to Coconut Grove. Archives arranged for the educators to hear a talk at the clubhouse by Dr. John Nordt. At the Academy of Arts and Minds, Jeffrey Poitier showed part of his film Voices interviews with descendants of early Bahamian settlers.
Lisa Remeny's administration began with the Club's participation in the Peacock Program. Thanks to the sponsorship of Anne MacDonald Korth, Denise Schneider and Norma Jean Abraham, "Tropica" the peacock, placed on the comer of Bayshore Drive and McFarlane Road in front of the Club became a favorite spot for tourists to take photos.
In August, Dolly MacIntyre suggested we start a Bingo Night. Erica Kutner, Denise Schneider and Lina Duque worked on the project. All proceeds went towards paying down the mortgage. In October 2010, Archives removed from our Safety Deposit Box original old documents (deeds, notes, mortgages and the original incorporation papers), copied them and sent the originals to UM Special Collections.
In March 2011, Coconut Grove Garden Club donated to our front garden Patsy Rodriguez's botanically themed tiled bench created by local artists. In August 2011, the Club sponsored an open community meeting to discuss the restoration of the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Michael Spring, head of Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs, spoke. In November we held the "Tea for Horses," an SPCA Horse Rescue Fundraiser. The year ended with our annual Senior Holiday party. In the first quarter of 2012, Lina Duque painted and decorated the Brides' Room/Office/Archives Nook. She also had the wicker chairs restored. Lina reupholstered the cushions.
During the administration of Christina Holbrook, the Club took on the challenges of the ongoing restoration of our historic building. Joyce Nelson obtained bids on new windows and doors'" for the kitchen, stage and office. The coral rock around all windows and doors had to be reinforced and the interior painted. Thanks to Diana Ramos and her excellent team Bingo not only brought the community into our house, but also reduced our. mortgage.
Long in the works, the revisions to the by-laws and the articles of incorporation were approved by the membership. The Club membership increased by 15%. On the gala night of our Young Artist's Gallery weekend, the raffle of a jeweled purse donated by Romero Britto made for a fourth art scholarship. In December, members gathered to serve our traditional Holiday luncheon for the seniors of our community. Sue Kaye Martin's "Bounty, Loo* and Treasure from Land and Sea" contributed to a newl_,^ established Contingency Fund. Unsold items were distributed to various charitable organizations in and around the community, hr April, the Club held our inaugural Lifetime Members Recognition Luncheon. Archives identified all items in the Club's Objects' Collection. Restored paintings were hung on our porch walls, creating a mini-museum.
With the goal of public welfare in mind, Marlene Erven continued to expand its community life program by supporting more organizations in need through volunteerism and contribution of goods and funding. The Club provided support to the Coconut Grove Crises Food Pantry and dedicated our spare change funds to support the Human Trafficking Unit at Camillus House, both in addition to the Club’s ongoing community service projects.
The Club received the Golden Coconut Award from the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce for Community Service in January 2016. The Woman’s Club hosted an English tea for The Villagers, recognizing them for their significant contributions to the WCCG throughout their 50-year history.
The City of Miami Mayor Thomas Regalado presented the Club with a Proclamation declaring February 19, 2016 Woman's Club of Coconut Grove Founders Day. The Club, in association with New Theatre, presented the play Footprints written by playwright and Lifetime Member Sandra Riley, which dramatized the pioneer lives of civic visionaries and conservationists, Mary Barr and Kirk Munroe. More than 100 people were in attendance to help celebrate the 125th Anniversary of our founding.
Marlene Erven’s second term as President was devoted to building a strong board of directors and membership base to carry forward the Club’s mission. Membership increased to 144, the highest in its history. An impressive team of board members and volunteer chairs created a positive impact within the community that increased WCCG’s overall community presence.
The Conservation Committee enthusiasm surged under Sylvia Heller’s leadership that reinvigorated the Club’s work with Everglades National Park and created co-sponsored events that included community-wide recycling days, a CLEO Institute climate change workshop, local community cleanups and a community film night. An in-house recycling initiative was developed. Led by Agnes Morrell and Sylvia Heller, the Club' supported the Human Trafficking Unit at Camillus House and then developed a(“Human Trafficking Awareness Prevention and Girls Empowerment Program” to support human trafficking education/awareness and create a model program for Woman’s Clubs’ worldwide]
The Community Life Committee, under the leadership of Charity Johnson, conducted ongoing monthly collections and member education to benefit more than a dozen local and international (Puerto Rico hurricane relief and literacy support in Honduras) charities benefitting children, families and the homeless. Over 17,000 hours of Club volunteerism were recorded. Members Lina Duque and Fan Zhang were awarded Volunteer of the Year Awards. The Club continued its annual Young Artists’ Gallerie and Seniors’ Parties and hosted a Historic Markers Celebration.' Bi-monthly Bingos continued along with two Hy Vong pop-up food events, Afternoon Tea and Fashion Show and Comedy Night that raised funds for the kitchen renovation and other projects. First Vice President Virginia Yermoli strengthened Club involvement in the FFWC and DCFWC by keeping our ties strong with our sister organizations.
House and Grounds, under the direction of Joyce Nelson and Samantha Nordin, tended to the maintenance our 90+ year-old building: a front door awning was installed, wood flooring was replaced, windows were resealed, and privacy hedges were planted. With the kitchen in dire need of renovation, the president initiated a capital fundraising campaign for the renovation of the kitchen and catering service areas.
Team Archives, Sandy Riley, Amy Goodhart, Diana Ramos and Travis Neff, accomplishments included researching and preserving historical documents, sharing historic knowledge with the community and creating the film, “125 Years of WCCG History.” Goodhart and Riley worked with historians at the Everglades to celebrate the Centennial of the Royal Palnr Park by documenting how the women of Florida saved the Park. The exhibit is on permanent display at the Coe Center. Riley created a dramatic reading of her play Footprints that reached local and international audiences at the Everglades Coe Center and the Suburban Players Theater, Buenos Aires. In 2017 Travis Neff became the first male member of the Club and the production manager and lighting designer for the theatre productions.
Virginia Yermoli’s first term as president proved productive. The Club recuperated $149,420 owed to us. This money helped us to pay off all our debts and to establish the Taylor-Orr Educational Scholarship. Monies received from ads paid to print our Yearbook. We opened an Instagram, a Twitter account, and redesigned our website to allow members to access membership address book online, check the calendar of events, donate or buy items. To fall in with other organizations our fiscal year changed to run from January to December.
Committees organized several fundraisers and cultural events: Bingo, Happy Hours, Holiday Bazaars, Music Theater, Founders Gala, Comedy night and an Art show.
The Founders Gala, celebrating our 128th anniversary, was a huge success. The catered dinner started with cocktails in our garden where members dressed as our Founding Sisters. Edith Gifford, Flora McFarlane, Mary Barr Munroe, Isabella Peacock, Euphemia Frow, Jessie Munroe and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas greeted our guests. Kirk Munroe acted as the Master of Ceremony throughout the event. Our members/actors supplied information of who they were and how they had advanced the work of our Club. Inside, our great hall became a Supper Club, complete with a ten-piece Big Band and a singer to entertain us. There was dancing and a good time had by all. We made $10,000 at this fundraising event.
The Art Show, put together by 10 artists who are members of our Club, not only displayed their work; but each artist spoke about their creations. The event was reminiscent of the time when our Club had its first art show in the early 1920s.
The Conservation Committee, under the guidance of Billie Jean Baldwin, started working on legislation for a plastic-free initiative, with the hope that it gets all the way to the State Legislature. Workshops educated the community about the dangers of plastics in the Bay, how lethal it is for our marine life, as well as Coastal Cleanup (picking up thousands of pounds of plastic and debris). We participated in the two annual E-Recycling events, in conjunction with the City of Miami and other organizations. They formed a Beautification Sub committees and members began landscaping the Club grounds by planting all native plants. Seven Dade County Pines were donated and planted. Native flowers and bushes were also planted in the front of the building.
The Human Trafficking and Prevention Committee, under Co- Chairs Sylvia Heller and Agnes Morrell, diligently worked in educating the community on the dangers of human trafficking; • they put together workshops to educate at-risk youth about the danger of falling into the trap of being trafficked. This committee organized workshops for at-risk children, including a Vision Board workshop and self-defense classes.
The Education Committee worked closely with the START Program (Striving to Attain Remarkable Teens) in West Grove. They began a project called “Augmented Reading,” which guided children to use art as a means of keeping a diary. Club members volunteered to tutor at an after-school program.
Over $10,750 were given as YAG (Young Artists Gallery) scholarships. At the May 2019 meeting, the Club awarded the first Taylor-Orr Educational Scholarship, for $ 2,500.
Following our Club motto of “Lend a Hand,” we opened our clubhouse, free of charge, to other non-profit organizations who needed a space for their events. We continue to strengthen our ties to the community by giving back. We gave $1,192.88 to the Woman’s Cancer Association Research program at UM, over $1,200.00 to the GFWC President’s project, Operation Smile. We donated monies to the Turning Point Suffragist National Memorial, where our Club name will be inscribed. We participated in the Coconut Grove Veteran’s Day Parade and sponsored the Seniors Party. We celebrated members who have maintained membership for over 25 years at a special luncheon event.
Our officers have submitted proposals for grants and donations for building repairs and maintenance. Thanks to the grants and , donations we received, remodeling has begun on the Club’s kitchen.
Our membership has grown to 180 members.
Because these things do not happen in a vacuum, the President would not have been able to achieve this if it were not for the amazing team of women who surround her. The First VP, Toni Valarezo, gathers all the information from each committee chair so that the GFWC Reports can be written. This is not a small feat, as committee chairs have to be constantly reminded to turn in their reports. She has re-developed and maintains our website. Fan Zhang, our Second VP and membership chair, has done an incredible job in bringing in new members, processing their applications, updating information on all our members besides managing our RSVP lists of members and friends for our lunches, as well as helping the Treasurer at the check-in desk. Pat Vegnani has been proficient in maintaining Club accounts as well as submitting proposals for grants. During this administration, something different has been implemented to accurately reflect our accounts. Treasurer Vegnani opened restricted accounts for each committee, to give the chair of each committee an idea of how much money they have raised and can spend for their projects. This is a painstaking job that our treasurer has been able to do for transparent accounting.
President, Virginia Yennoli was chosen, GFWC Florida, District 11 President’s Project Representative for Operation Smile. She was also elected First Vice President of Dade County Federation of Women’s Club.
During their shortened tenure (20 months) our officers sent • reports to the GFWC Florida in all categories. Between 2018- 2019 we received the following GFWC Florida awards and GFWC International award
• First Place Award: Legislation and Public Policy
• Second Place Award: Conservation, Membership, and
Women’s History and Resource Center
• Third Place Award: Communications and Public
• Fan Zhang was chosen the GFWC Florida District 11
volunteer of the year
First Place Awards:
• Legislation and Public Policy ,
• GFWC International Creativity Award for Legislation and
• Women’s Issues and Resource Center
Second Place Awards:
• Fundraising and Development
Third Place Awards:
• International Outreach
Honor Score Certificate
During President Virginia Yermoli’s last two years of office, the Covid pandemic introduced many hardships. The limitations of the ability to assemble in person did not deter the volunteers under her administration to continued to serve the community. “When COVID started, it was not easy to maintain membership engaged. We could not get together, we could not fundraise. Until then, we were fundraising by offering happy hours every week, with music, dance, or just getting together to enjoy each other’s company and open our clubhouse to potential members. However, we managed to stay connected through my never-ending emails, ‘keeping the membership informed,’ bulletins, sending cards, or calling members to see how they were doing. We have known how to learn to roll with the punches. Taking a note from our Founding Sisters book, we are resilient. A mere pandemic will not stop us from doing what we must.”
The building’s Forty Year re-certification application was submitted to the city of Miami and took approximately fifteen months to get the final approval. The inside of the clubhouse was repainted. The club received a grant from the Villagers to restore the stage to the original club floor plan. Architectural drawings were designed for this purpose. We created a Dade County pine garden and bench honoring our partnership with The Villagers organization. The kitchen remodeling was completed, and repaired the flat roof. Plans for a new entrance to our grounds, a gift from Annie Macdonanald-Korth, were sent to the city for approval.
During the pandemic lockdown, our members combined forces to service the community in many ways. The Feed Miami Project to help provide food for shelters and to feed the homeless was started to help South Florida farmers who were struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Amanda Megysei, Edina Huskic, Karen Cunningham, and their volunteers sold discounted produce to friends and neighbors to raise money to donate to shelters, food banks, and the hungry. Boxes of produce were donated to the Miami Rescue Mission, the Hope Rescue Mission, and at the corner of S. Douglas Rd and Florida Ave in Coconut Grove. Over 649 bagged meals were delivered to the Hope Relief Food Bank, the Overtown Community Center, and St James Baptist Church, to the homeless at the Jose Marti underpass near NW Brickell, Liberty City, and the West Grove.
Under the direction of the Conservation and Beautification committees, the “Face Mask Project” was initiated. Fifteen members of the Club joined a Sewing Circle to make over 1400 eco-friendly reusable face masks. These masks were donated to friends, family, and nonprofit organizations in Coconut Grove. Recipients included: Easter Seals, Thelma Gibson Initiative, Veterans Hospital, ICU Baby, YMCA, Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Veteran’s Hospital, and the homeless.
The Creative Minds Mentoring Program was established to mentor local youth on various topics. The program’s Zoom and FaceTime video conferencing sessions helped students interested in creative writing, manuscript editing, playwriting, drawing, painting, collage, and test-taking techniques. Volunteers included founder Karen Cunningham, and volunteers Cynthia Shelly and Emily Boland. A fundraising effort initiative was created by Karen Cunningham , Amanda Megyesi, and Virginia Yermoli, To continue fundraising. They designed, sourced, and priced tee shirts and grocery bags to sell on the club’s website store.
To celebrate our 129th Founders Anniversary, a “Dancing Through the Decades” theme was chosen to tie the many decades of the club’s history. Members were encouraged to dress to represent the many decades our club has seen. A short message from Mary Barr Monroe, was performed by Frida McMillan, under the direction of Sandy Riley. Live music represented all the decades of music and dance. The newly renovated kitchen ribbon was cut by current President Virginia Yermoli and Past-Presidents Marlene Erven, Charity Johnson, and Nancy Boggio. A champagne toast and cake cutting were followed by the singing of Happy Birthday to the club.
The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove (WCCG) and the Coconut Grove Negro Woman’s Club (CGNWC) joined forces to celebrate Black History Month. Carolyn Donaldson (CGNWC) brought together our two speakers. Leona Cooper-Baker (descendent of Black Bahamian immigrants) and Loretta Scippio Whittle (descendent of Black migrants from North Florida and nearby states) shared their different heritages, cultures, stories, and perspectives giving a more complete picture of South Florida pioneer life and growing up in the Era of Segregation in Historic West Grove. A joint collaboration between the WCCG and the CGNWC produced a short film entitled “Era of Segregation in Historic West Grove.” The film debuted at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, home of the Coconut Grove Negro Women’s Club.
Our Cultural Arts Committee, directed by Sandra Riley, offered wonderful programs and plays.Two short plays written and directed by Sandy Riley, titled “Hamlet Master Class” and “Julius Cesar Master Class,” were presented during our March Membership meeting. The plays were performed by Travis Neff and Natacha Tsakos. A scene from Lysistrata was also performed by our members under Ms. Riley’s direction. A poem by Peggy Hall was read to our members at the April luncheon. To commemorate the clubhouse’s One-Hundredth anniversary, Sandy Riley wrote a play called The Committee, which was performed at the event.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Club was closed in March 2020. Even though the Club was closed, the WCCG continued with events and fundraising.
The Young Artists Gallery (YAG) was held on March 14 -15. The exhibit was only open to a few visitors and students and their families. Seven major scholarships for $15,450 were awarded. Honorable Mention prizes were awarded to 10 students and 15 teachers received honorariums In an effort to provide members with a sense of consistency and connectedness while encouraging online networking, pre-recorded speaker presentations were recorded with the help of Travis Neff. The first presentation was ‘Understanding HIV in Miami Dade.’ A documentary about HIV during covid entitled “The Epidemic in Miami, No, But, For Real, Bro,” was viewed. The second presentation was: Working from Home by Bill Boland, Exercise Physiologist. This informative presentation demonstrated ten movement exercises to help alleviate back, shoulder, or neck pain caused by sitting. The third presentation was by Dr. JoNell Enfantis Parker, who is the Executive Director of THRIVE. She and her team of physicians at the University of Miami discussed Human Trafficking in Miami.
The Conservation committee launched the Plastic Free Initiative website. Articles and videos related to reducing single-use plastics were posted on the website. Because of Covid, events and initiative meetings were held via Zoom. Billie Jean Baldwin participated in the Sustainachella Bye Bye Plastics initiative. Members were invited to view The Story Of Plastic by Oceana Florida. Members participated in a discussion on how to reduce single-use plastics.
During Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) blue pinwheels were planted in the Club’s beautiful grounds to bring awareness to child abuse. Member Irene Monroe joined with PLY-Miami to crochet nests for baby birds and small wildlife for the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station. In addition, over 100 gift bags with Christmas gifts were assembled and distributed to four churches in the Grove.
With the help of Treasurer Pat Vegnani, we paid off the mortgage, and changed the fiscal year to be in sync with the rest of the nation. Wrote and received seven grants to help cover clubhouse improvements. We hired a financial tax consultant. Our year end balance was 197,898.57.
In the summer of 2021, we were asked to participate in the one hundred and twenty-fifth-anniversary celebrations for the City of Miami. We were part of a full day of events in Coconut Grove that concluded at the clubhouse. We showcased club artists in an art gallery/ happy hour fundraising event.
During the Clubhouse’s One-Hundredth Anniversary event, the first female Mayor of Miami Dade Country, Daniella Levin Cava, presented the club with a beautiful commemorative gift. The gift was a vase with the image of Lynn Fecteau’s sketch of the Clubhouse and a certificate of congratulations. Also, at that event, Commissioner Ken Russell presented the club with a proclamation in our honor.
During the past few years, the club was well known across the General Federation of Woman’s Club. Federation members supported our club by attending many events. Under President Virginia Yermoli, our club reestablished reporting to the GFWC, and the club was recognized with over thirty awards for our work.
* Historical Note on Early Settlers to Coconut Grove.
'The earliest pioneer settlers to Coconut Grove were mainly Bahamians. They knew the sea, these island people, who were nurtured by tropical trade winds and crystal waters. They understood island ways—reefs and shoals, calm and storm. The sea’s bounty was theirs for the taking— tropical fish of a thousand colors, twisted shells cloistering hidden delicacies and flotsam from wrecks ashore. They worked the difficult rocky land, planting vegetables and tropical fruits in the coral-pocked flatlands and building simple, cool dwellings on the mangrove shores.
Until the late 1870s, only a handful of people called this forgotten frontier home. Down Biscayne Bay from the Miami River, where the shoreline curved, an Englishman, Jack Peacock, had settled his family. He joined two Bahamian families, the Pents and Prows, who had carved out homesteads nearby.
Jack convinced his brother Charles, Charles’ wife Isabella and three boys to come to the Bay Country. They found Jack ’s Bight so isolated and the surroundings so jungle-like that they retreated to old Fort Dallas on the Miami River. Here, they met a young visiting Staten Islander, Ralph M. Munroe. This fortuitous history-making meeting brought together the people who would give birth to Coconut Grove, South Florida s most historic place.
In 1884, at Munroe s urging, Charles and Isabella opened a small inn called the Bay View House in Coconut Grove.... To help with their growing clientele Peacock went to Key West to seek workers. The first to come was Mariah Brown from the Upper Bogue, Eleuthera. ”
[Relatives and friends joined her. Mariah was the first to purchase a lot from the Frow family homestead. She built a house. Others followed. Arva concludes her paper]
"The settlement, named Kebo, after the African mountain, not only shared physical proximity with the white community, thgy shared respect. They worshipped together and interacted for special occasions.
As Ralph Munroe brought more of his northern friends into the area, the Kebo settlement grew. Working together, they cleared the land and built their island-style homes. They also provided the major workforce for the community, as a whole, and helped newcomers learn to live in the isolated, tropic land.
They knew how to grow things in the unwelcoming terrain—how to plant tropical fruits in small rock craters, how to grub the pineland. The, brought young saplings from the Bahamas and planted the seeds of their favorite fruits—sapodillas, genips (Spanish limes), almonds and tamarinds all over the Grove. They shared their knowledge of food, bush medicine and tropical gardening. Much of the lush landscaping in the Grove today was originally inspired by their memories of home (Untitledpaper by Arva Moore Parks July 2000).”
(1) Other Archivists who helped with this revision:
Diana Ramos and Karen Cunningham and Honorary Member Peggy Hall