History of the Acton Woman's Club
This charming building has had a long and colorful history. Back in the days when Acton was young, Church and Government were close knit. A voter had to be a freeman and a church member, a fact accepted until 1829 when the Church was disrupted due to doctrinal differences.
In February of 1829, "thirteen male members and forty-six female members were dismissed from the Church" and recommended to the care of an ecclesiastic council to be called for the purpose of being formed into a church. The Council met and the present Evangelical Church of Acton was organized. A chapel was built and the Reverend James Trask Woodbury was called as pastor. That chapel is the present Acton Woman's Club. It served the church group until 1833 when they built their own meeting house on the site of the present Congregational Church. Sold in 1839, the chapel was remodeled into a two family house.
It is believed that during the time of the "Underground Railway" the clubhouse was one of many old homes in Acton which had secret rooms and tunnels and served as "stations" helping the slaves on their way to freedom.
In 1912, twenty young mothers in Acton Center formed a club with a main objective of meeting together and exchanging ideas in raising children. More women wanted to join and in 1915 the Acton Woman's Club was formally organized with Miss Charlotte Conant as President. After serious thought they decided what the club should stand for.......Over seventy years later our purpose is much the same........"Its purpose shall be to maintain and preserve this historic building for the Town of Acton; to promote friendship among the women of Acton; to encourage cultural, benevolent and civic activities of its members. It shall be non-political and non-partisan."
The first meetings were held at the Congregational Church. In 1919 club members purchased an old home in which they met for five years. This house still stands to the right of the Club. They purchased the present Club about 1924. It was in disrepair having served as a two family tenement house. Remodeling was a tremendous undertaking with partitions removed, fireplaces uncovered, and a goodly amount of papering and painting. An addition was built on the back which now makes up that area where the present kitchen is and the stage upstairs. The formal opening of the Clubhouse was on May 17, 1924. The President at that time was Isabella B. Griffin.
Acquiring the clubhouse and remodeling was only the beginning. They had also acquired a sizeable mortgage. They proceeded to raise the money to pay off the debt with suppers, sales, teas, lawn parties and card parties. Suffice to say that in 1940 the mortgage was burned with much rejoicing.
In the spring of 1973, a gift from Mr. Albert Jenks, in memory of his wife, to the Acton Garden Club whose meetings are held in the clubhouse, made possible the restoration of the house plantings and gardens.
Over the years the Club has offered diverse social activities as well as having contributed generously to charities and awarded an annual scholarshiop to a high school senior.
Through the years, new groups have replaced those before them, but the same loyalty and interest prevails. The Club now has over one hundred and thirty members. The clubhouse is Acton's only surviving Federal Period public building and one of only two brick ended houses in Acton.
Maintaining the club in mint condition requires a yearly expenditure of which few people in Acton are aware, but it is the fond hope that this lovely old building, as well as the Acton Woman's Club itself, will always be an integral part of life in the town of Acton, if for no other reason than to carry on the tradition handed to us by those in the Club who have gone before.
Read a 1995 article about the building. (pdf)