MACKINAW WOMANS CLUB
In 1912 six Mackinaw City women formed a literary club to study Shakespeare. These women were: Mrs. Julia Inglis (who became MWC's first president), Mrs. Hattie Stimpson, Mrs. Tena Barrette, Mrs. Blanche Desy, and Mrs. Luella Overton.Their meetings were held in each other's homes until 1914, when they had over 30 members, and founded the Mackinaw Woman's Club.
With the help of Mr. John B. Stimpson, who made a push cart for the ladies, books were collected and taken to various meeting places in their efforts to start a library. For a while they used the Mackinaw Village Council Chambers as a library, but it was not very satisfactory with the city fathers who objected to the women cleaning and invading their territory where ashtrays and cuspidors were conspicuously in use. Later, a room in the schoolhouse was allowed for library use, but this proved to be less than an ideal arrangement. All these stumbling blocks served however, to spark these ambitious women to earn enough money to build a combined library and clubhouse of their own. In order to raise funds they held ten-cent teas, parties, musicals, plays, and various programs. Two lots on Jamet Street were purchased for $550.00 in cash from Mrs. Charles Stimpson. On October 5th, 1931, fifty women gathered to witness Mrs. Luella Overton shovel the first bit of earth for the foundation of the long-awaited clubhouse. The 28' x 48' shingle-covered structure with a full basement was completed and the first meeting was then held in the new clubhouse on January 18th, 1932, as President Grace Barton presided. Their first meeting became a kitchen shower and each member brought her own chair. Gifts for the building came from the members, business men and citizens of the community. At a festive occasion in September, 1938, President Grace Trumbull led the group in burning the paid-up mortgage of $1,290.00 In June, 1969, the club's library joined the Northland Library System. The Mackinaw Area Public Library is now a separate entity. It is located on W. Central Avenue across from Marshall Elementary and Mackinaw Area High School. The Mackinaw Woman's Club was incorporated in 1931, and is now a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (C) 3 organization with a club fund in the Straits Area Community Foundation, an arm of the Northeast Community Foundation.
The women of the Mackinaw Woman's Club have been busy for a 100 years with projects which, in the early years, included the purchase of 3 pianos for the public school, collecting over 2000 books for the library and starting a hot lunch and milk program for the elementary school.
For 25 years the Club sponsored a free Well-Baby Clinic which operated out of the clubhouse. They also sponsored scout troops, sent gifts and letters to the men in the military, sponsored Red Cross swimming lessons, established a Teen Town Hall, donated books to prison camps, annually gave gifts to the Newberry State Hospital, and began community auctions which evolved into the current annual Antique Show.
In 1968 the Club became affiliated with the Northland Library Association. In 1984 a new library was built on West Central Avenue and is now known as the Mackinaw Area Public Library.
The Club's other activities continued with sponsoring Heritage Day during the Bicentennial; cosponsored the writing and publication of "Memories of Mackinaw"; financing the landscaping of a block on North Huron Boulevard in memory of Frances M. Fox (Mackinaw City author) and deceased club members.
Funds were also provided for a drinking fountain at Old School Park and one on Straits Avenue near Fort Michilimackinac; and members began their annual gift-giving program to the Diane Peppler Domestic Violence Center. The Club continues to support many of these projects and also sponsors a college scholarship and Red Cross Blood Drives.
Through these hundred years there have been many more projects, too numerous to list - but through them all we have followed our motto
"for the betterment of Mackinaw".
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