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Salem's Woman's Club
 
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 near Corvallis.

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 the day.

Compiled by Virginia Green

Bibliography:
Ahrend, Mike. "Woman's club marks 100 years of service". Statesman Journal, October 8, 2001.

Interview with Ellen Oppen, current president of the Salem’s Woman’s Club in 2001

 

 
Carnegie Library hosted by woman's club
This Carnegie building was built in 1912 and hosted the Salem Public Library, as seen in April 1955. It was located at the corner of State and South Winter Street.
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Mrs. Isabelle Greer
Mrs. Isabell Greer
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