Life is full of serendipity and opportunities ripe for the taking. Our first President, Alice Ames Winter, was waiting for a friend to join her for tea downtown on the afternoon of March 23, 1907. Ms. Winter waited for some time before deciding that her friend would not be coming. Not wanting to waste the afternoon, she decided to walk over to the Library where she remembered that Gratia Countryman was holding a meeting to talk about establishing a new club for women. Ms. Winter was interested to learn more. She was a dreamer full of ideas. She also had a practical mind. She was just the sort of woman - a natural leader - whom the thirty-nine women assembled could follow. On April 8, 1907, she became an Incorporator and the first President of the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis.
OUR COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY
Here at the Woman’s Club, we are proud of our long history of community outreach and community partnerships
Back in 1911, Minneapolis Public school children shared water-drinking cups and did not consistently have access to soap and clean towels for hand-washing. The Woman’s Club wanted better health for the city’s children and so, in schools where Artesian wells had already been installed, our Department of Home and Education pushed for force pumps and “kissing fountains” to also be installed. These fountains made it possible for 700 children to drink within 10 minutes and eliminated the need for water-drinking cups, shared or otherwise. Additionally, the Club worked to have all school plumbing tested and the city sewer extended to the McKinley School.
In January and February of 1920, the Club’s Committee for the Blind financed the opening of an eye clinic at the Franklin School. Two ophthalmologists, an optician, and a nurse were employed by the Club to staff the eye clinic. The goal of the eye clinic was to aid in the prevention of blindness in children and also to identify and help children whose vision would benefit from the use of eyeglasses. In a short time, students from every public elementary school in Minneapolis were sent to the Franklin School to receive eye exams.
Today, our work with the Minneapolis Public Schools continues to focus on meeting the most urgent needs of the day. Through our relationship with the Aquatennial Ambassadors, we were introduced to People Serving People which is the largest and most comprehensive shelter for families experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. Through the generosity of our Club members and the Aquatennial Ambassadors, we have been able for six years running to provide the school children at People Serving People the supplies they need for school and for their study rooms at the shelter. In 2020, in the time of the COVID lockdown, the students were in desperate need of headphones to use for distance learning. As always, Club members came forward and donated generously so that no student would be denied the opportunity to learn because they lacked the critical resources.
We operate the historic Ard Godfrey House in Chute Square, our bicentennial gift to the city.
Our newest community partnership is with InvolveMN which was co-founded by Melanie and Grant Snyder. When Grant Snyder was introduced to The Woman’s Club in December of 2020, he thought this could be an amazing partnership. InvolveMN were in need of a large kitchen and the Club’s kitchen had been idled by COVID. But it was more than that. The InvolveMN team felt an immediate connection with the people of the Club, its history, and its desire to do even more in the community. “It was a heart connection and a connection of shared missions. It just felt like we were supposed to move our operation to The Woman’s Club,” said Grant.
Involve MN is a relatively new nonprofit that has a great impact on the Twin Cities. Seven days a week, as early as 4:00 am, its staff members turn on the lights in the Club’s kitchen and begin cooking meals to be delivered to people who are unsheltered and vulnerable and who would otherwise go hungry. Some of the people served to receive a hot breakfast, others a hot lunch and/or dinner. InvolveMN can prepare and deliver over 1,250 meals a day with the use of the Club’s kitchen.
InvolveMN’s motto is “We show up because we are a community and people matter. And InvolveMN keeps showing up because relationships are the key to changing lives.” This is what Grant meant when he said that our two organizations have shared missions. The Woman’s Club is a community and we believe that relationships are key to changing lives and improving our world.
Built in 1928, our six-floor Clubhouse at 410 Oak Grove Street was designed for us by Léon Arnal, architect of the Foshay Tower.
Designated a Minneapolis Historic Treasure, our Clubhouse is filled with inspiring gathering and event spaces. Our Rooftop Terrace has breathtaking views of Loring Park and the downtown Minneapolis skyline; our historic Theatre seats more than 600 and is a superb venue for special events; and our elegant Lounge and Dining Rooms are the perfect places to relax with friends.
Our Clubhouse is also a place for life-long learning. We have a robust education program, encompassing stimulating programs, lectures, and discussion groups for our members and guests on a wide variety of topics and issues. We have a well-stocked circulating library and a myriad of cozy spots for readers and writers.
We are many things to our members and guests -- a friend, a respite, a force for good, a place for belonging. A place to call home. The Woman's Club of Minneapolis welcomes you, women and men. Join us.
“The pandemic turned the world upside down. While it was a challenging time for the Woman's Club, and for all of us collectively, it has also been a reinvigorating exercise to reimagine how we could best use our two most important resources: you, our members, with your brains and creativity and generosity, and our beautiful, historic building.”
— Club President Gloria Sewell , 2020 - 2022