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Lemon Bay Woman's Club

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Ann A. Shank, former County Historian
Photo Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Lemon Bay Woman's Club photo

The Lemon Bay Woman's Club was the center of Englewood's civic and social life for many of its early years. The organization began in 1918 as the Lemon Bay Mother's Club, and met at the Englewood School. The club's goals to promote civic, community and child welfare, later specified in the club's charter, were evident from the beginning.

During World War I, the members participated in Red Cross activities. By 1922 they had stocked a community library, which they operated for 40 years until Sarasota and Charlotte counties built public libraries. The club also donated funds for school materials.

In April 1924 the Mother's Club became the Woman's Club, and, with a donation of land from one of the members, made plans for a clubhouse. Clare Hosmer and Thomas Reed Martin, Sarasota area architects, donated their services to design the Prairie style building. One story and wood frame, it cost $3,120 and was in a residential neighborhood on North Maple Street.

Club records indicate that 200 people attended the official opening of the clubhouse in February 1926. That may have been nearly the whole town, for the 1926 City Directory contains only 63 listings for Englewood. (The communities of Bee Ridge, Laurel, Nokomis and Osprey each had larger listings that year.)

Over the years, the Woman's Club hosted educational classes, entertainment and social activities in addition to housing and operating the library. Until changes were made in the tax law regarding the tax-free status of nonprofit organizations, it also made space available to groups lacking their own meeting place.

The girls shown outside the Woman's Club in this photo were students of Florence White Geary. As Englewood's voice and piano teacher for many years, Geary organized and directed musical events around the community, some at the Woman's Club.

This 1948 photo is from the Geary Collection of the Lemon Bay Historical Society.

The history and architecture of the Lemon Bay Woman's Club building qualified it for placement on the National Register of Historical Places in 1988.

Special thanks to Ann A. Shank, County Historian, Sarasota County History Center for her research and time devoted to writing this article.

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