Gloucester Woman’s Club to celebrate its 100th
With Oct. 5 open house at historic ‘Edge Hill House’
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Gloucester Woman’s Club, there will be a free, community-wide “open house” on Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., recalling not only the history of the Woman’s Club, but also of the Historic Edge Hill House building and its many owners.
Docents will offer tours of the building, and there will be costumed actors portraying the founders of the club, and some of the former owners: a planter, a merchant, a harness maker, and a dressmaker who lived there, explaining their occupations and their relation to the times. There will be a “country store” in the building, and an old carriage and wagon on the grounds. Refreshments will be served.
When the Gloucester Woman’s Club was organized on March 29, 1913, Gloucester was a very rural county, with little opportunity for women to gather, other than with those groups associated with churches and the “Kings Daughter’s” circles. The club’s four founding ladies saw an opportunity to fill that void, to come together “to establish and maintain a woman’s club for the purpose of promoting education, social culture, and civic improvements for the people of Gloucester County” and “to own, maintain and preserve a club house building as a meeting place.” At first, the club rented rooms in Edge Hill House in the historic Gloucester Court House area. The club purchased the building and the surrounding .091 acre in 1920.
During both World Wars, Edge Hill House was used for war relief projects and by servicemen. In 1942 the Woman’s Club sponsored Gloucester’s first Girl Scout troop. Many school children have toured the building and, more recently, the building has been included as a site on the Gloucester County History Trail.
A book written by Gloucester historian Bill Lawrence, A History of Edge Hill House, Home of the Gloucester Woman’s Club, published in April 2013, adds further evidence of its true past, with text plus old and new photos. It is available for purchase at the Gloucester Museum of History.
Over the years members of the Gloucester Woman’s Club have worked diligently to see that their historic building was carefully restored and that its architectural integrity was maintained. In 1973, Edge Hill House was accepted into the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register, and in 1974, into the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975, an open space easement deed of the building and site was given to the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. In 1980, a charitable foundation was incorporated to help raise funds for the maintenance of the building and site, and to help educate the public as to its historic value. In 1993, the foundation received a major bequest from a daughter of one of the Woman’s Club founders. Through her generosity and the on-going contributions of the Gloucester Woman’s Club, the preservation of this historic site will carry on for future generations.
Edge Hill House is open to the public for special events throughout the year, and for guided tours upon request. It is also available for private rental. Please call 693-6201 for further information.
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