125 years later, the Woman’s Club is still empowering women in Concord 

  • The Woman's Club of Concord on Pleasant Street celebrated its 125th anniversary. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/7/2019 9:36:08 PM

When the Woman’s Club of Concord was founded in 1893, women were still decades away from earning the right to vote.

Now, 125 years later in 2019, multiple women are running to become United States president.

The political landscape for women has changed, Carolyn Stiles, president of the Woman’s Club, said. But the organization’s role in the community is just as important as ever.

“The Woman’s Club has always looked to see, ‘What’s affecting the community and what can we do to help? What’s affecting women and what do they need? The needs are different, but the mission is not.”

The Woman’s Club of Concord hosted is 125th anniversary celebration Friday night at its headquarters, the Chamberlin House at 44 Pleasant St.

The club was able to show off the improvements made to the Victorian home, built in 1886, through two Land and Community Heritage Program (LCHIP) grants in recent years that included fixing its aging roof, rebuilding its chimney, replacing windows and upgrading the electric systems in the home. A new coat of paint went on the building this year.

In its early years, the Woman’s Club was involved in the suffragist movement, Stiles said. Members also became involved during wartime – they folded bandages for the American Red Cross when that organization was founded. Notable speakers like Jane Addams, founder of Hull-House, and Booker T. Washington an African-American educator and late 19th century equal rights activist, came to visit the Chamberlin House.

Now, the organization does a lot of work through its home, where women in transition are able to rent rooms on the second floor for low cost. They have been offering quilt-making courses at the state prison and donating books there – 1,000 last year, Stiles said.

The Woman’s Club also offers scholarship opportunities to women transitioning after incarceration who need help paying for classes or materials they need to go back to school or join the workforce.

The club also hosts monthly community programs – Madeleine Albright and Billie Jean King are two speakers who have visited the organization in recent years.

Now, the club is looking to help put on a series of plays focused on mental health issues.

“We really want to bring the club into the forefront on this issue, because it really affects everyone,” she said.

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