An organizational meeting held November 10, 1910, was the beginning of The Woman’s Club of Escondido. They encouraged the enforcement of street cleaning, and the bucket of water and dipper used in schools and businesses was abolished in favor of paper cups. As a goal the new Carnegie Library was opened in 1910. Any community event, such as the Grape Day Festival, was an opportunity to parade with its Woman’s Suffrage banners or encourage the display of agricultural products and flowers. They encouraged planting trees, shrubs, and flowers to beautify the city and encouraged city improvements.
In July 1913, they held a dance to raise the first building funds. They couldn’t even vote, let alone borrow money from a bank. The first regular meeting was held March 18, 1918, in its new clubhouse. It had cost $2,028.25 and the furnishings cost $219.00. Most important- it was debt free. The city band held its first appearance in the clubhouse.
The ladies requested the city to build a swimming pool in Grape Day Park and held a huge rummage sale to raise funds. The Drama Section became the Community Arts Club, which helped with the pageant “Felicita”. They published a cookbook and used the funds to buy a seeing eye dog for a local blind youth.
Hostess Day with the merchants allowed members to view the Christmas merchandise, meet the owners, and receive a gift. Flower shows were given until the formation of the Escondido Garden Club in 1939. In 1947, the Club helped with the first Palomar Philharmonic Concert.
In 1956, under the direction of the chairman of the California History and Landmarks, the Escondido Historical Society was organized and met in the clubhouse until they became self-sufficient. Members resolved to remove the sales tax from medicine, repeal the joint tenancy laws, reduce the tax rate, and to oppose a penal colony being located in the area.
The Club supported raising funds to build Palomar Hospital. Two nursing scholarships were given. Craft material and gifts were sent to Patton Mental Hospital. The club joined in furnishing 20 memorial trees for Oak Hill Cemetery.
The Club gave $25 per month to the Patriotic Book Store, which sold books against communism. Prayer cards were placed in restaurants. Members were asked to buy and use Peace Stamps. They sang “Let There Be Peace On Earth” and started prayer breakfasts.
During the country’s Bicentennial, the Club placed a large name sign in Washington Park and donated toward the building of Heritage Walk. The Past Presidents Club was organized in 1949. They put on a dinner to start the clubhouse building fund in 1959. The Junior Club was organized in 1936 for young ladies from 18 to 21 years of age. However, over the years they kept raising the age limit. In the 1940s, they paid ten cents per member to the Woman’s Club.
In 1968, the Woman’s Club of Escondido assisted in organizing the first United Indian Woman’s Club in the United States.
The new clubhouse on Rose Street was finished and we moved into the building in 1983, almost on the same date as in 1918 that the first clubhouse was opened. We had a bank loan, private loans, and a desperate emergency loan from a few members. We cut expenses and raised dues. We had to get rentals to pay expenses. We had a few steady renters, so we had all the personal and bank loans paid off by 1989.
The IRS also ruled that a certain amount of interest on any funds be spent on philanthropic projects. We started the Scholarship Foundation, Inc. in 1991 with its own governing board. The Club participated in the restoration of the El Camino Real Bell Project, which is proudly exhibited in Grape Day Park.
Our beautiful clubhouse is shared with schools, churches, business and community groups, and the public through outstanding programs. Many families enjoy the use of our building to celebrate special occasions. A partnership has been developed with non-profit groups by providing our building at a limited cost for its fundraisers and meetings.
Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) leadership scholarships are awarded annually to local 10th grade students. Very special thanks to each and every one of our club members for their continued support, dedication, commitment, volunteer work and love.
Excerpts, “History of Women’s Club of Escondido, 1910-1985, and the Latter Years, 1985-1999” as written by Mary McDonald Bankhead.