Memoirs of the Wauwatosa Woman’s Club
On Sept. 22, 1894, Mrs. Alonzo Kellogg opened her home on Church Street to 22 Wauwatosa women, in order to organize the Wauwatosa Woman’s Club.
Officers were elected and a constitution adopted, declaring the club’s purpose to be “The social and intellectual development of women through a free interchange of thought, by a course of careful study, essays and discussions.”
Meetings here held in members’ homes, while special events took place in the parlors of the Greggs’ Irvington Hotel on Harwood Ave. Before the turn of the century, the growing membership moved to rooms above the library. The rooms must have been chilly, since minutes state: “The Club dispersed because Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Porter perceptibly shivered.”
In 1901, a piano was rented so that the club could enjoy musical programs. At the end of the year, however, the women decided to dispense with this luxury, as it was too expensive.
The Club was incorporated in 1907; the first May Breakfast was prepared by members on a 3-plate gas stove. Daughters of the members served the meals on tables decorated with wild flowers from Mrs. Foley.
As plans grew for the building of a Club House, so did the concept of including a museum to preserve the treasures and the spirit of Wauwatosa’s earliest settlers. By 1913, donations began to come in and a Ways and Means Committee was formed.
Mr. E.D. Hoyt offered land in 1914, for a Club House with a museum, provided that the women raise $10,000 in two years’ time. World War I intervened, and the offer was extended five more years. During the War, Club members met in the city council chambers. May Breakfast was canceled while they threw themselves into war work, continuing throughout the summer.
After the war, the time came for the 93 members to raise $10,000: they sewed, wove rugs, cooked, baked, held home talent shows and rummage sales, until their goal was reached.
On April 24, 1924, ground was broken for the Club House. Each member turned a spadeful of earth while all sang, “Best Be the Tie That Binds.”
The building was dedicated with celebrations on March 11, 12 & 13, 1925, with concerts, a costume party and speeches by local dignitaries.
The Club House still had to be furnished in the following years. Finally, at the 1937 May Breakfast, the $45,000 mortgage was burned with high elation and much ceremony.