|On October 12, 2001, the Salem Woman's
Club celebrated 100 years of community service at a luncheon
in a local restaurant. That date is exactly a century from the
first business meeting where Isabell Greer, wife of Oregon Governor
T. T. Greer was chosen the club's first president. The club
is the oldest affiliated with the Oregon Federation of Women's
Clubs. The local club was organized to improve literature, art,
science, home and household economics in the community. Salem
at that time had a population of 4,258, with one police officer,
one street commissioner and four fire fighters.
An early project for club members was the Salem Public Library,
which was first opened in 1903 in the Salem City Hall at High
and Chemeketa streets NE. In 1909, the club bought the property
at State and Winter streets and Salem's Carnegie Library was
built on the property in 1912. Two year later, the club helped
start the YWCA of Salem. The present YWCA now uses the old
Carnegie Library building.
In 1923, the club bought its own building at 460 Cottage
Street, NE and operated a type of free university with regular
classes taught by Willamette University professors. After
decades of use, the clubhouse was sold. Proceeds from the
sale provided an endowment, with the interest continuing to
support community civic projects and charitable projects.
In 1926, when the club had 500 members, a cooking school,
sponsored by the club and the Oregon Statesman, newspaper
drew 1,200 women to the Elsinore Theater. During the depression,
club members provided help for students in Salem schools,
state institutions and the Children's Farm Home orphanage
In 1953, club members provided money to help save the historical
Methodist Mission parsonage and move the 102-year-old building
to the grounds of Mission Mill Museum. Among the efforts club
members still support are the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership
Program, student scholarships, the Salvation Army, Union Gospel
Mission, Walton Guest House, Boys Scouts, Campfire Boys &
Girls, Willamette Valley Hospice and numerous others.
The Salem Woman's Club is a part of the General Federation
of Women's Clubs as are the Salem Zenith Club and the Salem
Woman's Service Club. The latter two groups meet in the evening
while the original Salem Woman's Club continues to meet during
Compiled by Virginia Green
Ahrend, Mike. "Woman's club marks 100 years of service".
Statesman Journal, October 8, 2001.
Interview with Ellen Oppen, current president of the Salems
Womans Club in 2001