[graphic header] Detroit: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service

Women's City Club

The Women's City Club documents the growth of women's organizations in the 20th century. Although often ridiculed at the time as busybodies, female reformers and activists became increasingly influential after the Civil War. Their growing importance became particularly apparent in the years around World War I: they played a vital role in organizing the domestic war effort and pushed through the Eighteenth (Prohibition) and Nineteenth (Women's Suffrage) Amendments. After these national victories, women's organizations in Detroit and throughout the United States flourished. In the 1920s, it became apparent that the city's many women's organizations needed their own meeting place. A number of activists established the "Women's City Club" and hired architect William Buck Stratton (the husband of Mary Chase Stratton, the owner of Pewabic Pottery and a club member) to create that building. His design used a featureless "modern" brick exterior, but the interior, replete with hand-wrought light fixtures and liberally applied Pewabic Pottery ceramics, revealed the strong influence of the Arts and Craft Movement. The City Club offered classes and extensive recreation programs and eventually enrolled over 8,000 Detroit women. Among those meeting regularly in the building were the League of Women Voters, the Musicians' League, and the Women's National Farm and Garden Club; among the speakers it hosted were Jane Addams and Lillian Russell. After WWII, Club membership dwindled, and the group moved to smaller quarters, but the Women's City Club still stands, a strong reminder of the history of women's organizations and their effects on Detroit's artistic, humanitarian, and political culture.

The Women's City Club is located at 2110 Park Avenue, just north of Grand Circus Park. The building is not open to the public.

Women's City Club Women's City Club
Photograph by John Renaud

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