MASON CITY – Imagine finding out that you’re older than you thought. Now imagine that you’re a woman and find out that you’re 10 years older than you thought!
That’s what the 164 current members of the Mason City Woman’s Club recently learned. They went into this membership season thinking that their organization was 90 years old. Celebrations were planned and everyone was excited.
The historian for the Mason City Woman’s Club set about to gather information from the Club’s archives to showcase their 90 years. What Mary Madison learned was that the Woman’s Club was actually100 years old!! It’s an achievement to reach 90 years but even greater to hit the century mark!
Over the years, the Club’s historians have carefully compiled documents about the events of the Club during that year. Those documents have been stored at the Mason City Public Library. Mary began as Club Historian the same year the contents of the Library were moved to Madison school for safekeeping during the remodeling process. When that process was completed, everything was moved back to the Library for storage in the new area designated for preservation of Mason City’s history. Terry Harrison found several boxes containing many documents for many women’s clubs in Mason City, dating back to the 1880s. Terry and Mary finally found a box in which records for the 1960s were found.There in a scrapbook was a clipping from the Globe Gazette dated April5, 1962. The headline read: 50th Anniversary – Woman’s Club Guest Day.What a shock that was!
Over these 100 years, the Mason City Women’s Club has been instrumental in helping to shape Mason City and its future. In the very early years, a portion of the membership dues were sent to support the suffrage (women’s vote) movement. The Club has provided support for the Red Cross, the Humane Society, the Tuberculosis Association and funding for an art museum in Mason City. That art museum began in the St. Joseph Convent and is known as the MacNider Art Museum.
In the early days of the Club, there was a great deal of interest in nature and conservation. Not only did the Club conduct a survey of trees in the area but they backed planting and care of the parks and wild life.Money was donated by the Mason City Woman’s Club for land in Clear Lake to establish State Park. The Club also helped establish a city restroom as well as setting up a milk ordinance for Mason City. Skating rinks and lighting of the rinks were provided because of assistance from the Mason City Woman’s Club. The Club contributed to the formation of the city laboratory and hiring of a nurse for the public schools. Money from the Club was donated to the YWCA and YMCA.
During the depression, the Mason City Woman’s Club set up a hospital bed fund to meet the urgent need for maternity hospital care for the women of Mason City. This maternity care was funded through presentation of plays.Women who could not afford maternity care were provided with this care through this funding. Many women and their children were served by this fund. Funding was also provided through rummage sales held by Club members. Other traditions that survive to this date are the annual Tour of Homes and the Style Show & Luncheon. This year Club members toured three homes including the home of Roger & Peggy Bang which celebrated the start of construction 100 years ago as well. 100 seems to be a popular number doesn’t it.
In later years (the historian hasn’t found all of those records yet) the Mason City Woman’s Club began a tradition of holding book sales in various locations in Mason City. Community members were encouraged to donate used books to the Club and then in turn were resold in the fall. For many years the proceeds from those book sales went to the Mason City Public Library. The last few years saw the proceeds from the book sales being split between two women’s organizations – Crisis Intervention and Trinity House of Hope.The Mason City Woman’s Club is very proud of its past 100 years and is looking forward to the future and its place in Mason City history!
A celebration of our 100 years will be held on Tuesday November 13th at 1:00 PM at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Mason City. David Vikturek will kick off the celebration at 1pm with a presentation on the boyhood of Meredith Willson. Willson would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year as well. Following his presentation to members and guests, cake and refreshments will be served. Past Presidents are encouraged to attend and will be recognized for their service.Memberships are available for $15.00 and can be purchased at the door on Tuesday. For more information, please contact Marian at (641)421-8531 or Mary at (641)420-1553.