Twentieth Century Club celebrates 120 years of service

The Twentieth Century Club of Weatherford is turning 120 years old in February. The club was formed as a literary club but developed as an outlet for women’s civil engagement in service and social activities.  

After 120 years in the making, the Twentieth Century Club of Weatherford has remained a tradition for local women.

“Being part of something this old, it makes me feel strong and proud because I’m carrying on a really important tradition,” Past President Jill McClendon said.

The Twentieth Century Club of Weatherford is turning 120 years old in February. The club was formed as a literary club but developed as an outlet for women’s civil engagement in service and social activities. The club was officially formed on Feb. 8, 1900 with 29 members, started by Mrs. H.L. Mosley a month earlier.

The community is invited to a ribbon cutting and celebration in honor of the 120th anniversary at 11 a.m. on Feb. 6 at the clubhouse, at 321 South Main St. The event is planned to be a celebration of past and future, President-Elect Valerie Meador said. Members will also plant a tree in honor of member Frances Skiles who has been in the club the longest. 

Club members meet in the group’s original clubhouse, which was built in the 1920s and renovated with additions in the 1940s. The club also rents out the space to support their endeavors. In 2011, the Twentieth Century Club received a historical marker outside its clubhouse.

McClendon and another Past President Karren Lucas have been members for 20 years, both joining at the requests of their mothers-in-law. They said the service and fellowship is what they enjoy most about the group.

“When you get to know the women in this club, they are very interesting, interesting backgrounds,” McClendon said. “Originally, it was mostly homemakers that joined, and women who were interested in helping the community but were mostly wives and mothers, and that has evolved over time as women have changed.”

Nationally speaking, women’s clubs have been responsible for large scale initiatives like establishing libraries and voting rights for women. Club members often support community initiatives, like the restoration and refurbishing of the Double Log Cabin from Holland Lake Park. Some of their other projects include scholarships, safety driving courses and donations to M.D. Anderson Cancer and Research Center, Manna Storehouse, Meals on Wheels and the senior center, Weatherford ISD and Freedom House. In addition, the club picks a cause or organization to support each month of their operating year. The members support organizations that raise awareness for human trafficking and domestic violence, and those that help disadvantaged kids.

“Our primary goal is serving others,” Lucas said.

The Valentine Banquet is a club tradition that has been in existence for at least 50 years, McClendon said. Club members invite their spouses or other loved ones to the banquet.

McClendon talked about the former days of the club, where women would have fancy parties.

“The names, in the olden days, all the who’s who of Weatherford, were in this club,” McClendon said. “So, we had stringent membership requirements, and you had to be presented before the club at least twice before they could vote on whether you joined. They used to have elaborate teas and afternoon recitals — we still have the old piano — elaborate recitals where people would come and entertain while they were having teas with crystal and silver and fine china and the whole bit.”

The group turned more casual over the years, coinciding with more women joining the workforce, McClendon said.

The Twentieth Century Club has a long history of supporting the military, particularly during World War I and World War II. After WWI, club members planted sycamore trees between the highway junction and the Pythian Home called the “Road of Remembrance” for Parker County soldiers. Later, they sponsored a U.S.O. club during WWII as a place for soldiers to relax when away from Fort Wolters, and the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs recognized the club for maintaining the U.S.O.

Lucas also pointed out that the club would send wedding dresses to war brides in England marrying American soldiers during WWII. War allowed club members to get busy on initiatives to help the effort.

“I think [the wars] triggered patriotism,” McClendon said. “The club really wanted to do outreach during the wars. They really wanted to help and contribute to the war effort, and so they found a bunch of things to do like sending a wedding dress to Britain.”

The club has continued that patriotic spirit by serving breakfast to military and first responders before the annual Veteran’s Day parade. Meador started this tradition three years ago because she likes to cook, and veterans are special to her, especially because her late brother-in-law served in the military, she said.

“We started out with donuts and pigs in blankets, anything from pastry shops and stuff, and coffee and orange juice,” Meador said. “The next year I wanted to do more, and this last year we did more and next year we’re going to do even more, something different every year.”

In the future, Lucas would like to see the group continue its work and continue to grow. She would also like to see the club return to giving out college scholarships.

“Community needs change, and I’d like to see us keep up with the changes in the community and what the needs are,” Lucas said.

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