History of GFWC Woman’s Club of Tallahassee

Nestled among the oak trees at the entrance to Los Robles is a stately structure – the Clubhouse for the GFWC Woman’s Club of Tallahassee. Since its completion in 1927, this historical landmark has been the site of countless civic, social, educational and entertainment events.

The Club itself was organized in 1903 when Tallahassee’s population numbered about 3,000 men, women and children; and women were still 17 years away from attaining the right to vote.

Six local ladies met for tea at the downtown Leon Hotel (now the site of the Federal Courthouse).  They emerged from the Hotel not just as individuals, but as an enthusiastic community service group, organized and ready to go to work improving life in Florida’s Capital City.

The Club’s influence was felt almost immediately.  Members soon persuaded City officials to: Screen the city’s open air market; Place sidewalks on Monroe Street; Improve the railroad station; Plant trees; and Keep the cemetery in order.

In keeping with the philosophy of “strength in numbers”, the local Club decided to extend its outreach.   So 1905 saw its affiliation with the national group known as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC).

Education was also a high priority.  The ladies organized and operated the City’s first kindergarten. They were distressed that the high school age students had no building of their own, so members devised a plan. They canvassed every property owner in the School district and brought about a referendum to raise taxes for construction of the first Leon High School building.

The fundraising effort was a success, the building  was built on land  between Duval and Bronough Streets facing Park Avenue, and students began classes there in 1910.

When Leon High outgrew the space in the late 30s, and moved on to its current location, Lively Vocational School became the new occupant.  Then in later years, Lively School moved, the structure was torn down and replaced by the Collins Leon County Public Library building.  At that time, the original cornerstone for the first Leon High Building was given to the Woman’s Club and now graces the left wall of the entrance portico of the Clubhouse.

The next big project was acquisition of property and construction of the Clubhouse.  The beautiful Mediterranean Revival styled edifice opened in 1927 and has been the center of community activities ever since.  Additions and renovations have taken place through the years, and the Clubhouse has been listed on the National Register of  Historic Places since 1987.   During the celebration of its 110th year, an official State Historic Marker was placed at the Clubhouse entrance.  Issued by the Florida State Historic Preservation program, it is number 770 in the State, and only the 35th for Leon County.

Over the years, the GFWC Woman’s Club of Tallahassee has remained at the center of community activities and service.   During World War II, Club members turned the building over to the American Red Cross for multiple uses in the war effort, and Club luncheon meetings were held in a downtown hotel.

Many local charities have benefited from the outreach of this Club.  Some of these are:  Big Bend Hospice, Pace Center for Girls, Operation Prom Dress, Gretchen Everhart School, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Project Annie, The Dyslexia Research Institute, Woodland Hall Academy, Pyramid Players, Refuge House, Chelsea House, Sharing Tree, Lighthouse Children’s Home, Leon County Humane Society, Second Harvest Food Bank, Raa Middle School, Foster Children in Leon County, Manna on Meridian, Vietnam Veterans, Tallahassee Community College Scholarship Program, Kids Vote, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Lake City Veterans Hospital, Lighthouse for the Blind, and the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY).

The Club has long supported beautification of the Cities parks and public areas and was particularly active in the years when preservation of our beautiful oak trees became a very hot topic.  Charter members of the Club assisted in the planting of trees in the downtown City parks and also in the Los Robles area.   When the widening of U. S. 27 South leading up to the Capitol entrance was completed, and it was designated as a Blue Star Memorial Highway, Club members were busy raising money and then personally putting plants in the ground to beautify the new entrance to the Capitol.

Historic preservation in general has been a major interest.  The Club was active in the relocation and preservation of the Historic Union Bank Building and also assisted in the restoration of the Historic Los Robles Gate.

Some tag lines given to the GFWC Woman’s Club of Tallahassee — ”the heart of Tallahassee” and “Tallahassee’s oldest civic organization”.   Add to that “its beautiful Clubhouse — the Crown Jewel of Midtown”.

As time marches on, the Woman’s Club will still be a vital part of life in Tallahassee, as its members continue this legacy of historic preservation and service to the community.

Past Presidents

1903 Miss Anna S. Chaires †
1903 – 1905 Mrs. Howard Gamble †
1905 – 1908 Mrs. Thomas M. Shackleford †
1908 – 1912 Mrs. Charles A. Cay †
1912 – 1915 Mrs. Thamas M. Shackleford †
1915 – 1921 Mrs. John Kellum
(FFWC President 1936-38) †
1921    Mrs. Frances Tippetts Johnston †
1921 – 1922 Mrs. R. E. Rose †
1922 – 1924 Mrs. Frances Tippetts Johnston †
1924 – 1926 Mrs. E. H. Alford †
1926 – 1928 Mrs. Edward Conradi †
1928 – 1930 Mrs. Fred C. Moor †
1930 – 1931 Mrs. Ben H. Bridges †
1931 – 1933 Mrs. E. G. Rivers †
1933 – 1935 Mrs. M.B. Riherd
(Mrs. Tom Moore) †
1935 – 1936 Mrs. T. S. Green †
1937 Mrs. O. C. Parker †
1938 Mrs. Ralph Gramling †
1939 – 1940 Mrs. Malcom J. Longsdon †
1941 Mrs. William Speed †
1942 Mrs. D. E. Williams †
1943 Mrs. Julius F. Parker †
1944 – 1945 Mrs. J. V. Chapman †
1946 Mrs. Hugh L. Mays †
1947 – 1948 Mrs. A. E. Thornton †
1949 Mrs. L. D. Fain †
1950 Mrs. James L. Graham †
1951 Mrs. Frank D. Moor †
1952 Mrs. Millard F. Caldwell †
1952 – 1954 Mrs. L. Saxon Dasher †
1954 – 1956 Mrs. C. Paul Vickers †
1956 – 1957 Mrs. John E. Stead †
1957 – 1958 Mrs. Clyde W. Atkinson †
1958 – 1960 Mrs. Charles W. Bevis †
1960 – 1962 Mrs. Kathleen R. Rich
1962 – 1964 Mrs. J. C. Pratt
(FFWC President 1970-72)†
1964 – 1966 Mrs. Carl A. Stayer
(Mrs. B. A. Luning) †
1966 – 1968 Mrs. Forrest R. Coxen
(FFWC Corresponding Secretary 1970-72)
1968 – 1970 Mrs. Oley W. Sellers †
1970 – 1972 Mrs. Lee W. Elgin, Jr. †
1972 – 1974 Mrs. J. V. Chapman†
1974 – 1976 Mrs. Douglas L. Cooksey †
1976 – 1978 Mrs. Joseph A. Boyd, Jr. †
1978 – 1980 Mrs. Dewey B. Eubanks
1980 – 1982 Mrs. John T. Sewell †
1982 – 1984 Mrs. Marvin Murray (Mrs. A. F. Rich) †
1984 –1986  Mrs. Jay McGlon †
1986 – 1988 Mrs. Charles Rennick
1988 – 1990 Mrs. Arthur Core
1990 — 1991 Mrs. Ruth B. Skretting †
1991 – 1992 Mrs. Charles W. Bevis †
1992 – 1994 Mrs. Dewey B. Eubanks
1994 – 1996 Mrs. Clifford Burns †
1996 – 1998 Mrs. Anne Core-Michaels
1998 – 2000 Mrs. Charlene Bevis Reese
2000 – 2002 Mrs. Jean English Hurst
2002 – 2006 Mrs. Anna Schrieffer †
2006 — 2008 Mrs. Shirley Joyce
2008 — 2010 Mrs. Dot Joyce
2010 – 2012 Mrs. Donna Peacock
2012 – 2014 Mrs. Sue Tully