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How the handsome home of the Mesa Women’s Club came to be

By Jay Mark Special for The Republic |

Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:28 AM

One of the more rewarding pleasures gained from writing “Mesa Memories” is hearing from readers.

I do read and appreciate each e-mail and letter, but because of the volume, I am not always able to answer every one.

Some write to correct something I’ve written.

And that’s OK. The goal is to get history right. Others write with more information, thereby adding to the pool of otherwise unknown knowledge. Finally, and equally important, some write with questions and story ideas. That’s a real help. It gives a sense of what you are interested in.

For example, Rebecca e-mailed to say, “I was wondering if you’ve ever written about the history of the building close to downtown Mesa that has Women’s Club of Mesa over the door? I’ve always wondered about it. It is such a neat building.”

No, Rebecca, I haven’t.

But you and others have wondered about this building on the northwestern corner of Macdonald and Second Street.

Let’s start at the beginning.

As the women’s movement advanced during the 19th century, local clubs began forming to advance the cultural and social interests of women and provide a suitable forum for women’s activities outside the home.

Relatively late on the scene, the Women’s Club of Mesa was chartered on March 9, 1917, by 53 women, led by Margaret Wheeler Ross, immediate past-president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Arizona.

The charter states the club formed “to promote literacy, good fellowship, social and educational interests, and municipal improvements.”

Without a home, the club often held meetings in the guild hall of the Episcopal Church on West Pepper Street.

A year after founding, the club began raising funds for its own home. After 13 years, the goal was achieved and construction began on a Spanish Revival structure — a popular building style at the time — with a prominent turret over the recessed entrance.

After a years-long struggle first to raise the money and then to build a facility compatible in design and scale with the neighboring homes, the Women’s Club of Mesa finally dedicated with great fanfare its new, handsome stucco-covered brick structure on Oct. 30, 1931.

Its prominent location with distinctive corner entrance was conveniently accessed by many of its members that lived in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood — now the West Second Street Historic District.

Membership in the organization nearly tripled in the 1950s. Meanwhile, the building earned revenue by being rented out as a meeting place for a variety of groups and activities.

In 1990, nearly six decades after it was erected, the building was given to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs-Arizona, which continues to operate it.

Recognizing its unique character and use, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 5, 1991.

Jay Mark is a longtime Mesa resident. Reach him at

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