HISTORY OF THE ARLINGTON WOMAN'S CLUB
On April 5th,1921, eighty-eight years ago, a new club was born with one purpose in mind: sponsor a library to serve the Arlington community. For two previous years, Mrs. R.E. Colcord had been lending books to those in the area and had succeeded in getting a shelf in Mr. Boooth's cold drink stand, located on Arlington Road, where books could be checked in and out.
As we understand it, Mrs. Colcord invited a number of ladies to her home for a card game. Fourteen attended and it was then that she explained to them her plan to set up and organize a club. A committee was named to draw up the Charter, Constitution and By-laws. Weekly meetings were held thereafter and elections of officers were held with 24 charter members. Mrs. Colcord became the first president Several names were suggested for the new club, and it was decided that it should be the "Eastern Shore Woman's Club". It was not until 1952 that the name was changed to "Arlington Woman's Club".
A committee was named to look for a building site, but in the meantime, a one-room house on Palmetto Street was leased for $80.00 per year. The street was sandy so the ladies volunteered their husbands' time to haul and place pine straw to make it more accessible.
The first meeting held in the club room was on May 3rd, 1921 and the first project was moving the books into the building. On June 20, 1921 the club gave a House Warming Tea.
Plans were made in August 1921 to borrow money to buy a lot and build a clubhouse. In March 1922 the lot was purchased from Mr. & Mrs. W. T. Burke for $400.00. Captain Lilly gave the money to purchase the lot and also $100.00 to buy books for the library. Miss Helen Breck, his sister, donated $100.00 toward the building cost and the clubhouse, or rather clubroom as it was only one room, 24' by 36’. The celebration and dedication took place on October 22, 1922 with Mrs. W. S. Jennings. First Vice-President of the Florida Federation of Woman's Clubs presiding. The club continued to grow and it became apparent that larger quarters were needed. It was during 1935-1936 that an auditorium and kitchen were planned and built, leaving the original structure exclusively for the library. Money was borrowed, $1500.00 from the Florida National Bank, and each member pledged $12.00 toward the building fund. The new addition cost $1895.00. On November 19, 1936 the new addition was ready and opened with a reception in celebration. It was 1940 when the mortgage was paid in full. By this time it was decided that the library was in need of renovating, but it was not until 1948 that this was accomplished. In 1949 we saw the organization of the Arlington Junior Woman's Club which we sponsored.
The club had now increased in size and stature. The years that followed saw many changes. The kitchen was completely renovated, fluorescent lights installed, new folding chairs, banquet tables and card tables were purchased. In 1958 the club again underwent a face-lift. The stage was removed and the hall and lounge became part of the auditorium to give additional space. Another restroom and storage space was added and part of the original porch was enclosed to serve as a foyer. It was furnished with modern furniture by the American Home Division, which had recently been organized as part of the club. It is believed this cost for renovation was taken care of by a building savings account which had been gradually accumulating for this purpose. Draperies were also bought and paid for monthly. Everyone worked together with each administration striving to make improvements. The club was bursting at the seams trying to house the more than 10,000 books and serving the increased membership due to the fast development of the community. A library building fund was set up and through a concerted effort by all members in 1962 the club had $3,000. This was not enough but a good start. Once again the club floated a loan to build an addition, doubling the size of the library and to make major repairs. With good luck and a lot of hard work the club was able to make the last payment in June or July of 1966. In 1974 the Arlington Community Club, established in 1919, officially terminated its status and turned over property at 5714 Arlington Road to a holding corporation formed by the Arlington Woman's Club. Through the years the two clubs had worked very closely on civic affairs and had used the facility for the free dental clinic and the well baby clinic. The president of the holding corporation, Hazel Satterfield, promised to extend Arlington Woman's Club activities to retired and church groups. Plans were made to sell the old clubhouse and enlarge the new facilities as soon as possible. In April 1976, the bicentennial year, a ribbon cutting ceremony was shared by the president of the Arlington Junior Woman's Club, the Arlington Woman's Club, the Arlington Woman's Club Holding Corporation, and Arlington Junior Woman's Club Holding Corporation; Janice Combs, Isabel Hartsock, and Hazel Satterfield. The majority of the members attended dressed in the theme colors of red, white and blue bicentennial dresses mostly sewn by them.
This was the only woman's club built in the bicentennial year and because of this received special publicity from the Jacksonville Bicentennial Commission.
The year 2000 proved to be an expensive year for the club. It was necessary to update an antiquated air-conditioning system as well as make needed repairs to the roof. With several "Flea-Market Sales" and "After Church Dinners" the club was able to fulfill it's obligations as well as make some additional improvements. The dilapidated 8 foot tables were replaced with more serviceable round tables.
The Holding Corporation, with the help of the General Club, was able to purchase a complete set of dinnerware and glasses. These were used for the first time when the club hosted the District IV Fall Board in November 2000.
In September a member of the "Old Arlington Preservation Society" presented the club with a plaque for the beautification of the club property.
The Arlington Woman's Club reached a milestone in 2001 by celebrating its 80th anniversary. The officers for the year were as follows:
- President: Janice Combs
- First Vice-President: Roberta Elkins
- Second Vice-President: Edna Bishop
- Third Vice-President: Kathryn Dollaho
- Fourth Vice-President: Frances Padgett
- Recording Secretary: Elaine Bailey
- Corresponding Secretary: Betty Kuehl
- Treasurer: Althea Fowler
- Assistant Treasurer: Virginia Solomon
Activities at the club included four Sunday Dinners, a fish fry, spaghetti dinners, family nights with Bingo parties, monthly bridge luncheons, a garage sale, and marathon bridge. Projects for the year included "adopt a mile", scholarships for two girls, and support for the Hacienda Girls Ranch. The entire membership embraced the Arlington Elementary School by collecting children's clothing, supporting the Kleenex drive, donating pennies for the school, redecorating the teachers' lounge that included new upholstery for the lounge chairs and a new microwave stand. Several members contribute their time and talents to other community projects and non-profit organizations. Frances Padgett is chairman of the Senior Citizens Elders Council on Elder Affairs. She was appointed by Mayor John Delaney She has received many awards for her outstanding work in the community. Althea Fowler spends numerous hours each week at the Arlington Elementary School telling stories to the kids accompanied by her puppets. The school honored her with "Volunteer of the Year". Doris Turner and Ruth Moll give their time each week at the Baptist Hospital. Elaine Bailey volunteers with the outreach program for Breast Cancer. We have fifteen members during election days in the local precincts.
The clubhouse continued to receive improvements in 2001. We purchased 20 new long white tables, 14 new card tables, added teaspoons and tablespoons to our silverware, put 20 locks on the cabinets, and continued the upkeep in order to provide for the rental of the facility.
The years 2002 and 2003 found the club members working very hard to help improve the image of the Arlington Community. The club became involved with Old Arlington Incorporated, a group of citizens in the area who are very interested in preserving the history of the area, and making the area a place where people will want to visit and make it their home. Our program speaker in March 2003 was Lu Coberly, a board member of Old Arlington, Inc.
The club received a First Place (category 2) award at the State level for our yearbook for 2002.
The club is continuing to grow. The membership increased in the 2002-2003 period by 10 new members.
In October 2003 the club held a new type fundraiser entitled "Celebrating Life Luncheon". The Donna Hicken Foundation was chosen Donna Hicken, a Channel '12 news anchor, who has dealt with breast cancer twice, formed this foundation. The foundation helps women who are dealing with breast cancer and having financial problems. The club sponsored a luncheon, complete with tables honoring breast cancer survivors and had an auction of a large basket of donated items worth over $400.00 The club presented Ms. Hicken over $2000.00 for her foundation. The club has continued to support our Scholarship Fund, Hacienda Girls Ranch, Boggy Creek, Special Olympics, HOBY, Canine Companions, Angelwood, PACE, The Boy's Home, Dreams Come True, Arlington Elementary School, and Southeast Guide Dogs. The money comes from our eleven monthly bridge luncheons, four Sunday dinners, a garage sale, fashion show, Marathon bridge, fish fry and a spaghetti dinner.
Several members of the club continue to be very active in other organizations. Frances Padgett continues her tireless work with the Senior Citizens Center and the Senior Citizens Elders Council on Elder Affairs. She not only works with groups in Jacksonville but also in surrounding areas. Allthea Fowler continues to tell her stories every week at Arlington Elementary School. Several members volunteer at a hospital, the Baptist Cancer Institute, the Reach to Recovery program with the American Cancer Society and Hospice. The club supports the election process with several members working in local precincts.
The clubhouse continues to be an important asset to our community. It is a meeting place for groups, wedding receptions, birthday parties as well as our own functions. The upkeep is getting to be more of a problem as the building ages. In the past two years the club has been painted inside, the metal blinds were replaced with wooden blinds, the roof was repaired, and a new sprinkler system was installed along with improved landscaping.
Club members are working on a brochure that can be used as a hand-out in the community to educate others on our commitment to service. The Arlington Woman's Clubs' past is a source of pride and the club wants to make sure Mrs. Colcord's vision for the club will continue for another eighty-eight years.
The years of 2003-2005 were very busy as we helped prepare for the GFWC National Convention in Orlando. The club members helped to make egg carton decorations and the Arlington Woman's Club prepared 150 jars of strawberry jam to be used as table favors. In addition we hosted the annual District 4 Tour of Officers.
We were pleased to receive a second Place State award for our work with the Donna Hicken Foundation, which helps women with breast cancer.
The club brochure was completed and is given out at all community functions and to prospective members. The club name was changed from Arlington Woman's club to GFWC Arlington Woman's Club. The members became very involved with community activities when we made our "voices heard" to the Planning Commission in Jacksonville. We partnered with several churches and businesses in the area to stop a bar/nightclub from being opened directly across the street from the Woman's Club. Several members attended Planning Commission meetings and spoke against the opening. It was a successful campaign.
In 2004-2005 the club was very visible in the Arlington Area. The Publicity Chairman made a concerted effort to publicize the activities. There were a number of articles in the newspaper about the Arlington Woman's Club and about the wonderful asset it is to the community.
The club members took on several new projects this year. An Art Festival was a joint project with the local elementary school. The children's art was displayed at the school along with the arts and crafts from local artists.
The club members also adopted the entrance to the local nature preserve, Tree Hill. The area was cleared, ground prepared, plants purchased and planted. It continues to be cared for by the members.
The members also participated in Tree Hill's annual Butterfly Festival. Baked goods and bird feeders were sold, and the profits from the baked goods were turned over to the nature preserve. Education is one of the top priorities for the club. We sponsor 2 or 3 recipients each year. If they continue to qualify they are supported for 4 years. This year we were pleased to have one of our recipients continue on and get her doctorate degree. The Scholarship Committee was invited to her graduation celebration and received recognition for all the support that she received from the club.
We were honored to receive nine District Awards and five State Awards in the spring. One of the state awards was a first place award for the President's Project. We also came home with a 2nd place in the State Arts and Crafts Contest, and in the fall the scrapbook received a first place for Best Art Work.
Eleven new members increased the club roster.
The Holding Corporation has had several large projects this year. The roof on the building had to be replaced, and one of the air conditioners also had to be replaced. This has put a very heavy burden on the Corporation and finances are a major concern at this time. The Corporation continues to-rent out the facility, and we hope things will improve so major changes don't have to be made.
The Club members are proud of their past and what has been accomplished and look to the future with anticipation. Like the deep-rooted tree the GFWC Arlington Woman's Cub has been rooted in this area for 84 years and has spread goodwill and comfort to scores of people. It has survived adversity and continues to be strong. With this in mind we will continue to work towards Mrs. Colcord's vision of service to the community as we celebrate 85 years of service to this community in 2006.
During these two years the Club has continued to support the neighborhood, the State projects and the General Federation. Money and items were collected for Operation Smile. In the new year the club supported College Scholarships for young people who have had cancer. The neighborhood school was also supported with the collection of school and art supplies. The annual "Art in Arlington" Festival was held in the spring. The Festival is an opportunity to recognize outstanding art students from two of the neighborhood schools. The club works with the art teacher, supplies the awards and the refreshments.
We received several District and State Awards during these two years. Frances Padgett was selected as a recipient of the local Channel 12's "Twelve Who Care Award." One of our members also won the District 4 Volunteer of the Year Award for 2007.
Being asked to Host the District 4 Tour of Officers was one of the highlights of 2006.
Scholarships for college students are still an important project. Two young women have been supported with $1000 scholarships each year for the past three years.
The main money raising projects continue to be the Sunday luncheons for the community, the Bridge luncheons, Fish Fry and the Garage Sale.
The Holding Corporation found it necessary to replace one of the 15-ton air conditioning units in 2006, and had to remove a large tree in the front yard. In 2007 ten round tables, linen tablecloths and 150 place settings of flatwear were purchased from another club.
The clubhouse is rented on a regular basis.
It is our hope that the GFWC Arlington Woman's Club will continue to be an important part of the Arlington Community.
Scholarships for college students are still an important project. Two yuung women have been supported with $1,000 scholarships each year for the past three years.
The main money raising projects continue to be the Sunday luncheons for the community, the Bridge luncheons, Fish Fry and the Garage Sale.
The Holding Corporation found it necessary to replace one of the 16-ton air conditioning units in 2006, and had to remove a large tree in the front yard. In 2007 ten round tables, linen tablecloths and 150 place settings of flat wear were purchased from another club.
The clubhouse is rented on a regular basis.
It is our hope that the GFWC Arlington Woman's Club will continue to be an important part of the Arlington Community,
These were exciting years as we moved into the Computer age. Our Web Site was established, along with Pod Casting, by one of our members, Sylvia Millard. Our Newsletters are being published on the Computer, including photos and available by e-mail to about half of our members via e-Mail. The Yearbook was formatted on the computer, and printed from a laser printer, which reduced overall costs to the members.
Two of our members were selected as the Volunteer of the Year for District 4, one in 2007 and one in 2008.
Our Scrapbook won First Place and President's Choice in the State Competition in 2007.
We were excited about our emphasis on "Save the Honeybees" which carried out the theme our State President chose, "Heifer". We continued to support the theme with our "Honeycombs Farm".
We changed the name of our scholarship fund to "The Isabel Hartsock Scholarship Fund" to honor one of the founding members of the fund.
Four of our members held District Positions; District Secretary, Placement Chairman, and Child Advocacy Co-Chairman, Special Olympics Chairman, and District Scrapbook Chairman. One member has served on the State Ways and Means Committee for several years.
We are excited that a member of our club, Janice Combs, will serve as District 4 Director for the next 2 years.
We supported the State project, "Sew Much Comfort" by donating 419 tee shirts.
We were pleased to induct our first African American member into our membership.
The Holding Corporation has had two very busy years. A $25,000 loan was taken out to replace the floor, paint the entire building and place tile on the front porch. Also, two new stoves were purchased for the kitchen.
We continue to support the community in many ways. A Christmas Party was held for the ARC, a day care facility for mentally challenged persons. The annual "Art in Arlington" for children continues to be an important project. Six of our members belong to Old Arlington, Inc., an historical and preservation society, and two members have joined as Charter Members of the Arboretum, a nature preserve.
Heifers, ducks, geese, goats, lambs, chickens and honeybees were on our minds as we continued to support our state project "Heifer." We raffled off a $500 gas card and raised over $2,000 to donate to Heifer. We continued to support our local groups such as PACE, The Emergency Pregnancy Services, Tree Hill and Old Arlington, Inc. We also collaborated with a local church and filled shoe boxes for "Operation Christmas Child." We donated 1400 t-shirts to the same church and these were sent to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We continued with our Christmas Party for the ARC, a day care facility for mentally challenged adults, and our "Art in Arlington" program at one of the local elementary schools. The members participated in the art project and sent eighty watches to the American Mural Project.
We are still supporting two girls with scholarships in their efforts to obtain their college degrees.
The road in front of our clubhouse is always clean as we continued with the city's Adopt A Road' Project. Old Arlington, Inc. placed 23 historical markers around the area giving information, and we were pleased to have one placed on our property.
We have been so excited to win lots of District and State Awards these two years. We participated in the District and State Arts and Crafts contests and excelled in these areas also. One of our members entered a photo entitled "Rooftops" and it took top honors in the national competition.
Four of our members continue to serve on the District level, with one being the District Director for District 4, Janice Combs. We celebrated our 90th anniversary in April 2011. We have worked hard on membership and have acquired fifteen new members this year. Our web site has brought in numerous inquiries about renting our clubhouse, so we are pleased with this publicity tool. We have added a few more people with e-mail addresses-so we are able to send out our newsletter via e-mail and reduce costs.
As we plan for the New Year we are looking for new ways to help improve our neighborhood and work with other groups in the area.
We look forward to many more productive years in the Arlington area.