The Woman's Club History
The Woman's Club of Fayetteville was founded in November of 1906 when a group of women came forward to protest the destruction of the Market House (built in 1838), the focal point of downtown Fayetteville, NC.
After succeeding with this, the women organized the Civic Improvement Association (a.k.a. the Woman's Civic Improvement League), which was reorganized as the Woman's Club of Fayetteville in 1920.
The club is responsible for the first library in Fayetteville, launched between 1907 and 1910 on the second floor of the Market House. Private donations filled the shelves until the 1910 book reception from which the available book number rose to 725 books. At that time, subscription rates were $2.00/family, $1.50 for individuals, and $0.50 for children. The library became public (and free for all Cumberland county residents) on December 18, 1933.
The Woman's Club is also responsible for Fayetteville's first public restrooms (in the Market House), the first teachers' retirement plan for North Carolina, and many other significant projects.
During World War II, The Woman's Club began renting The Sandford House from the Powell family. The club gave a "proper" home to single young women who had moved here to attend college or to meet the city's growing war-time job market. The house was also used as the city's YWCA. In 1945, the club purchased The Sandford House.
In 1956, the Halliday home was set for demolition. Fortunately, the owners donated the "oval room" to The Woman's Club. Today, we call the beautiful room "The Oval Ballroom." The Woman's Club successfully placed both The Oval Ballroom and The Sandford House on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. If you search the National Register database, the two properties are listed collectively as "Fayetteville Woman's Club and Oval Ballroom."
In 1966, the club purchased the neighboring house, now called The Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. The club immediately removed modern additions and conveniences, but restoration of the property has been slow-going. This home was placed on the National Register in early 1972.
Late 1900 to Present
During 1997, the Colonial Dames of America began a campaign to complete research on and restore the structure. The Woman's Club is in awe of the success of their campaign, and we are eternally thankful to the Colonial Dames for their continued support of Heritage Square.
The Woman's Club habitually and joyfully supports many charities that directly benefit the citizens of Fayetteville. We also participate with other community groups to help bring a sense of history to our city during events such as Dickens Day and the Haunted Fayetteville tours. Our club also presents the Christmas Tour of Homes annually, in addition to many smaller projects and groups in hope of helping to meet the needs and desires of this city's fine citizens.
Since our first meeting, the mission of The Woman's Club of Fayetteville has been the improvement of the community and the promotion of civic, cultural, educational, and social welfare of the people of Fayetteville. We have a heritage of respect for community, history, and one another.
The Woman's Club colors are purple and green. Our Insignia is the thistle. Our motto is "Gainsay Who Dare." (Gainsay is an old-fashioned word meaning "contradict" or "oppose.")
The object of the Woman's Club shall be to promote civic, cultural, educational, and social welfare of the city, to preserve Heritage Square, and to promote historical preservation in the community.
*The Woman's Club is grateful to our Historian, Mary Stewart Gillis, for her work on our club's history.