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History of the Brunswick Woman's Club

 Written by Edna S. Boggan

        March 6, 2009

The Civic Association of Brunswick, Georgia, was organized in the fall of 1913.  Their goal was to make the streets, parks, and squares blossom with thousands of trees and shrubs.


The children of Purvis School (a former elementary school located on Norwich Street) joined in by planting window boxes full of bright, beautiful flowers.  The "City Fathers",

recognizing the beautiful work the ladies were doing, decided to support them by setting aside a fund to finance their work.  Soon, the blossoming squares, well-kept streets and parks overflowing the flowers were evidence of the work done by the civic association.

In April 1917 the Civic Association merged into a "Woman's Club."  With this change, we became owners of a school in Tallulah Falls, Georgia.  Tallulah Falls School was started in 1909 by Mrs. Lipscome who was concerned that mountain children were not receiving a proper education.  The school is owned and operated by Georgia Women's Clubs.  It is a private boarding and day school for grades 6 - 12.  Students from many foreign countries are enrolled there.  We take great pride in "our school" by helping to support it. 


Heading into war years of 1918, we had a membership of 150.  The chief topic was "war"  with members doing their part knitting garments for the Battleship Georgia and sweaters for "our boys."                                                                 


As the war ended we moved ahead sponsoring a night school for adults who could neither read nor write.  Teachers from public schools were conscripted and paid a small fee.  Enrollment started at 135 and increased to 506, which shows how successful the program was.  Their report in 1932 stated it had become very difficult to raise funds so it ceased to function.


Club meetings were held at the Oglethorpe Hotel during the 1930s and 1940s with programs on music, public speaking, literature, education and government.  At this point in time the Woman's Club of Brunswick owned a lot on Newcastle Street next to what is now know as Old City Hall and had hopes of erecting a clubhouse.  During the 1940s this property became too valuble to keep so it was sold to a car agency.  The club purchased two lots on the northwest corner of Gloucester Street and Kay Avenue and held them for a number of years until they too became too valuable to keep and were sold to individuals who erected a professional building.


About this time in the 1950s Glynn County began disposing of property in the Goodyear Park area where a number of temporary buildings had been built during World War II.  Members approached commissioners for space for a clubhouse.  In February 1952 they received a deed for property adjacent to Parkwood Drive and West Park Avenue with the stipulation they could sell the property but it must always be used for civic or community purposes.  Club members borrowed $10,000, and the renovation of the building was underway -- "A Home At Last."


Husbands of members contributed much of the labor remodeling the existing building, and the ladies faced the fact that they had a huge responsibility to repay the borrowed money.


At this time, there was no restaurant space for civic or community dinner meetings so members began booking these meeting using their facilities to cook and serve meals.  The Junior Woman's Club members cooked and served Senior Woman's Club members at their monthly meeting and the Senior Woman's Club members served the Junior Woman's Club members at their monthly meeting.


They all rented their clubhouse for birthday parties, meetings and dances on weekends, bringing in money to pay off the loan.  As another fundraiser, the club presented "The Follies."  The show was profitable for three years, but the fourth year was very difficult so they gave up "The Follies."


Another fundraiser was selling chances on a car to be given away.  The night before the drawing they met to turn in funds collected and didn't have enough to pay for the car.  PANIC -- The next morning members covered Glynn County selling tickets, and by the time of the drawing that night, they had enough to pay for the car and had made a profit.


April 1958 they prepared a fabulous meal for members and husbands, and someone brought a black iron pot and burned the mortgage in celebration -- free of debt at last.


As the years passed, members no longer wanted to cook and serve their own luncheons, and facilities were now available to eat out.  In 1971, the building was sold to the Jaycees.  They later sold it to the Easter Seal Speech and Hearing Center (now SHARE).  We donated $5000 to the Easter Seal Center to furnish the Stroke Club Room and $1000 to the new YWCA Building and St. Marks Towers, a retirement home.


The Junior Woman's Club of Brunswick was organized by the Woman's Club of Brunswick in the 1940s, the St. Simons Junior Woman's Club in 1950, and the Woodbine Club in 1951.


We gave our first nursing scholarship to the Brunswick Junior College in 1967 and have given a scholarship every year since to what is now the College of Coastal Georgia.


One of our own members was installed as President of the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs, the first from south Georgia to head the Federation and the first Brunswick woman to hold a state office.


Our club, the junior club and the St. Simons club hosted the 75th Annual Georgia Federation of Woman's Clubs Convention on Jekyll Island.


With a membership at 76, we continued to support our scholarship program and other ongoing projects.  One of those is our school at Tallulah Falls.  We were able to arrange a donation of furniture, table and other equipment to the school infirmary, which were valued at $7000.


Under the leadership of our 1988 - 1990 president, we began the "Share the Pot" project with half of the proceeds going to the Arts Department and the other half to the winner of the "pot."


We were represented at all district and state meetings and received several awards.  We also began entertaining Sears Nursing Home residents by conducting Bingo games and assisting them with arts and crafts.


Club members continually raised funds by workshops on "Stop Child Abuse", fingerprinting of children for a permanent file to aid in the recovery of missing children, a program on rape prevention, work with the United Way, providing food baskets to the needy every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and for many years providing Christmas parties for members of the Glynn County Board of Education Maintenance Department.


Among our many activities, our members do arts and crafts, with winners going to district and state competition. We also dressed dolls for the Dress-A-Doll contest sponsored by the Salvation Army for needy children at Christmas.


We provided a pregnant goat to a family in Haiti with medical supplies and vet care for a year.


Since 1988, we have done an annual fundraiser to benefit the then Glynn County Retardation Center, now known as Gateway Behavioral Services.  Through the years we have donated from our fundraisers approximately $82,300.  Funds were used to purchase security and fire alarm systems, adding a screened addition to the patio, adding an awning over a walkway, and purchasing a paper shredder and computer equipment.


During 1991, the country was involved in the "Desert Storm" war, and members contributed food itmes to help dependents of military personnel serving in the Gulf War.


We were involved in recycling projects and turned in 16,000 pounds of newspapers.


1992 was an election year, and we held several voter registration drives in local malls and registered 91 new voters.


Our president attended the 1995 International GFWC Convention held in Atlanta.


Every year on Veteran's Day, we honor a veteran at our luncheon meeting and give him or her an opportunity to speak on their war experience.


In 1995, we honored two members who have been in the club for 50 years -- Sue Slaughter and Florence Ramsey.  The received a certificate and recognition in our local newspaper.


In later years, we presented 50 year Gold Membership cards to Jeanette Shadron, Lucile Vivenzio, and Ruth Caples.


In spite of the goals the original civic association set for themselves -- to beautify the city of Brunswick -- they and their successors have far exceeded their expectations. Members have volunteered their time and monetary contributions through our fundraisers to help those less fortunate.


Among other activities accomplished over the years were:

  • Attending naturalization ceremonies and participating in welcoming new citizens to the United States

  • Donating to the Perpetual Scholarship Fund at the Tallulah Falls School in memory of deceased members

  • Participating in the International G8 Cummit held at Sea Island by manning the telephone call center

  • Donating to UNICEF to help children in underdeveloped countries

  • Donating to Map International, a Christian International Medical Assistance Program based locally

  • Continuing the upkeep and beautification of our Woman's Club Park located on Newcastle Street at the entrance to Palmetto Cemetary

  • Supplying toilet articles, washcloths, stuffed animals, etc. to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and unwanted children

  • Helping the mentally disabled, for which we were awarded the Mental Health Association of South Coastal Georgia Community Service Award and the National Organization on Disability Aetna award of $1000

  • Volunteering at four elementary schools tutoring students in reading and math

  • Donating 30 Golden Books to the Pediatrics Department at our local hospital

  • Donating Christmas trees to Head Start classrooms and dressing dolls and bears for the Salvation Army

  • Donating a flag and flagpole at the Mary Ross Waterfront Park on Bay Street

  • Contributing $500 to the new Brunswick Public Library, for which a plaque was awarded and affixed to a bookshelf

  • Volunteering at Seaman's House as chauffeurs, placing international calls for seamen, record keeping and working as librarians

  • Donating funds from "Share the Pot" to school bands to purchase instruments they could not otherwise afford.












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