Our Story . . .
We have a lot in common . . .
Hi! I’m Jennie Freeman and it’s 1897. My friends Etta Scott, Elizabeth Nichols. Elizabeth Scott, and thirteen others led busy lives. Most of us had families. Our lives consisted of getting the kids up, making breakfast, cleaning the house, cooking lunch and dinner and going to church. Although we did not work outside the home, some of us were fortunate to have domestic help for these tasks.
We loved getting together and discussing life’s problems (Don’t you love to do this today?) But . . . just what is the image of a “woman” of the times and for the future? Well, we came up with a terrific idea! What if we form a Literary Club! We could read and discuss poets like Eugene Field, study Shakespearean plays together, write papers on William Dean Howells, Robert Louis Stevens, and enjoy musical works by Beethoven! Why, we could even enjoy each other’s musical talents!
Well, we organized our club, that March, naming ourselves “Woman’s Literary Club of Naperville” to study history and literature and focus on the general, intellectual, and culture of our members.
I’m so pleased to see how our little club has evolved into the “Naperville Woman’s Club” of today! How proud our group of friends would be to see that our passion for education, the arts and the Naperville community has flourished!
Our History . . .
With a passion for knowledge, the Woman's Club helped found the Naperville Library, contributed some of its first books and eventually helped buy the Bookmobile. The Club played a role in informing the community on Suffrage, hosting lectures and discussions for the community.
Urged by members of the Marshall Fields prestigious chorus, the Club formed its own group in 1922. Successful concerts at "The Walnut Room" were a deciding factor in bringing free store delivery service to the Naperville countryside. The group took "blue ribbon" honors at the 1933 World's Exposition. The Chorus tradition continued to present day.
The education of future generations of Napervillians was secured in 1915 when the Club petitioned for the initiation of a kindergarten. The Naperville Woman's Club furnished the domestic science rooms at the high school, as well as, victrolas and records and an ongoing subscription to National Geographic. High school and college scholarships were offered in the arts, nursing and teaching. And the group began a school milk program in 1921. We can thank the Club for the first "picture ladies" bringing art awareness into the grade schools and securing $1500 worth of Crayola products in 1982.
Red Cross fund drives, Liberty Bond campaigns, bandage wrapping, clothing for refugees, gifts for soldiers, the USO and War Bonds were all second nature to the Woman's Club. They began the Hospital Auxiliary, championed the need for a TB Sanitarium in Illinois and purchased an iron lung during the height of polio.
The Club's theatricals, poetry contests, creative writers group and musical programs ensured a vivid cultural life for the community. A Penny Art Fund provided prizes for school art contests and money was raised to support the North Central College Artists Series. Roots of the Naperville Art League, as well as, the Garden Club of Naperville can be traced to the Club. The group's International Relations Committee worked on Naperville's Sister Cities project. And in 2006 the Club is involved in the preparations for our city's 175th anniversary celebration!
We appreciate the rich heritage of our club, developed by the members and past presidents throughout the years.
Our Landmark Building . . .
Naperville Woman's Club Building is recognized during the Downtown Naperville Survey as a Naperville Historic site.
Originally built as a church, the building is an example of one of the most popular architectural styles for religious structures in the 19th century—the Gothic Revival Style.The Gothic Revival church building at 14 S. Washington Street is a charming example of the English Gothic Revival style, with a rusticated limestone exterior, three-part stained glass front window, and square corner tower. The building was purchased by the Naperville Woman’s Club in the 1920s. and has been renovated and updated through the years.
Learn more about our club and building, check out our book.
Our Book . . .
In 2007 the Club released its Commemorative History, then updated and reprinted in 2012. The 132-page book highlights ways nineteenth century women joined together. The publication offers over 75 privately held photographs. The efforts of founding members and those of future clubwomen provide unique insights into Naperville's history and growth as a community.
If you are interested in purchasing this book please contact us or go to: