Community News

Woman’s Club of Huntington Beach—A History of Community Service 1908-2016 by Mike Heywood

(A Book Review)

by: Chris MacDonald
Posted:August 14, 2017

HUNTINGTON BEACH...Woman’s clubs have long been known to help communities all over California but one of the most dynamic started in Huntington Beach in 1908. In his latest book, veteran author Mike Heywood paints a glowing tribute of this noted organization, which lobbied for the first street light, the first library and so much more between 1908-2016. 

The dedicated group promoted voting rights for women, created the first local Red Cross Auxiliary, supported the effort to eradicate polio, granted scholarships to high school seniors, assisted military veterans and the elderly, promoted bike helmet legislation, Project Self Sufficiency, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Nursing Program at Golden West College, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, Junior Lifeguard Programs at the City and State Beaches, and the Huntington Beach Tree Society.
One of their most recent projects was having famed landscape architect Ann Christoph design the beautiful new gateway to West Central Park (off Edwards Street on Central Park Drive).

Woman’s Club member Juana Mueller did much to make this happen, said Jean Nagy, president of the HB Tree Society, a volunteer, non-profit group, which has helped in the planting of more than 5,000 trees in the city.

“Helping” is what the Woman’s Club has always been about. One of the first things they did in 1908, was sponsor a Municipal Cleaning Day. They purchased trash containers to encourage residents to place refuse in them instead of on the street.

Heywood’s chronological look at the club gives credit to so many deserving members, who have made such a tremendous contribution to the city over the years, including founding President Florence L. Blodgett, who was a leader in the effort to create the first temporary library; Shirlee Earley, who turned the group into a political force; Carole Ann Wall, who helped create the Therapeutic Riding Center, and Norma Gibbs, HB’s first female mayor, who was instrumental in the founding of Central Park, the development of HB’s Library and Cultural Center and the Interval House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.” 

There’s a wonderful index to help look up names of many dedicated and carrying individuals.

Club members were devastated by a 2011 fire which burned down their historic wooden framed clubhouse on 10th Street, destroying their records and artifacts. They decided to sell the land for $1.2 million and have used the proceeds to better their favorite city. 

The last official meeting of the 108-year-old group was on Dec. 13, 2016 at a holiday luncheon next to the HB Pier. 

Thanks to Mike Heywood for helping save the story of one of HB’s finest, most caring groups, who made positive differences that are still being appreciated to this day!

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