The Woman's Club of San Antonio
History of the House
The Woman's Club of San Antonio, organized October 1, 1898, is built upon the rock of detailed research and planning. The foundation was laid by two women with vision and the ambition to blue print what they felt was needed in the club life of San Antonio.
The two women who founded the club were Miss Marion Fenwick, woman's page editor of the Daily Express and Miss M. Eleanor Brackenridge, clubwoman and philanthropist. They attended a General Federation of Women's Clubs convention in Denver in 1898. There, they were inspired by the "bricks and beams" they found in the program of the Woman's Club of Denver. Upon returning to San Antonio, they asked the very popular History Club to come to Room 5 of the Daily Express Building to form the Woman's Club of San Antonio. There were 15 charter members at that meeting.
The organization had many meeting places from that date until July 8, 1926, when they purchased the Woodward Mansion located at 1717 San Pedro, from Mrs. David J. (May) Woodward, a member of the club, for the very small amount of $47,000. This spacious club home is a functional witness to the organization's stability and effectiveness. Through the study and interest groups within the Club's organization known as Round Tables, general and special meetings of the entire membership, the work of the Club is carried out to achieve our objectives towards the "mutual improvement and cooperation in all that pertains to the greater good of humanity."
Over the years, many accomplishments are credited to the Club's dedication of purpose, such as:
In 1995, the Woman's Club received an official State of Texas Historical Marker based on its age and history, and received recognition by the National Registry of Historical Places on Wednesday, June 12, 1996. The Woman's Club of San Antonio is a §501(c)(3) charitable organization with the mission statement: "The object and purpose of the association shall be be mutual improvement and cooperation in all charitable and educational undertakings that pertain to the greater good of humanity." We were one of the original twelve members of the Fiesta Commission, and we are members of the San Antonio Women's Federation, Inc. and the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, Alamo District. We provide annual college scholarships and support local charities with a different emphasis each month.
Since 1926 we have been housed in the lovely Woodward House, located at 1717 San Pedro Avenue.
The historical Woodward House is a beautiful, three-story Neo-Classical Revival designed by Atlee B. Ayers. It was built by David J. Woodward in 1904-1906 as a birthday gift for his beloved wife.
The house was started on Mrs. Woodward's birthday and was built on a hill, the highest land in the area, with a view of downtown. One of the design signatures of an Atlee B. Ayers home is the massive two-story wooden columns which grace the front of the Woodward House.
The wide semi-circular veranda fronts the double doors that open into the Reception Room. To the right of the foyer, the Gold Room contains the gold leaf French style furniture that won the blue ribbon at the 1904 St. Louis World's Exposition. The ceiling is painted with murals reminiscent of the castles of Europe. The Reception Room leads to the double wide staircase and bay window on the landing. The formal reception room with oak paneling and tapestry-hung walls contains four floor-to-ceiling wooden columns that lead the eye to the beamed ceiling with original paintings. The Library to the left of the formal parlor contains an impressive carved wooden fireplace and cherry wood library table that was made from a massive antique piano. The Woodward House has two dining rooms that are accented with specially designed mahogany woodwork on the doorways, fireplace, and large buffet. Distinctly different and equally beautiful chandeliers grace the dining rooms.
The original six bedrooms on the second floor have been revamped and now an auditorium with a stage, the President's Room, the Celebrity Room, powder room and two baths. The third floor was originally the ballroom and is now used for storage. Its walls have pine paneling, faux painted to look like oak. Overall, the Mansion contains nearly 9,000 square feet of interior space.
The house is ADA compliant and an elevator assures accessibility from the basement to the main floor to the ballroom. In 1995, The Woman's Club received an official State of Texas Historical Marker based on the age and history of the home. It has also received recognition by the National Registry of Historical Places on June 12, 1996.
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