The Woman's Club of Stuart's
long and proud history
In the early 20th century, 29 Stuart women wanted to do something for their community...an area that would become the City of Stuart, which had a population of 400. On October 14, 1913, they chartered the Woman’s Club of Stuart, Palm Beach County, Florida.
They needed a purpose, and chose three projects:
to provide and maintain a free public library in Stuart;
to work for the establishment of a public hospital; and
to help provide and establish a park system in Stuart.
In 1914, the Stuart Woman’s Club joined the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and in 1922, the club joined the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs.
In 1916, the club purchased the Christian Endeavor Hall that would house their library for over 40 years.
In 1926, they raised $10,000 to help acquire the St. Lucie Sanatorium on Hospital Pond, a 10-bed facility. This was the forerunner of the Martin County Medical Center.
The Woman’s Club acquired a bronze statue called Lady Abundance, had it shipped to Stuart, sold it to the City for $1.00 and installed it on the courthouse grounds.
After World War II, Willard Kiplinger, publisher of the Kiplinger Washington Newsletter, donated land, and the Woman’s Club helped raise money for the library. The Martin County Library opened in 1957.
Kiplinger also donated land for a new Woman’s Club. The club raised money and built their new building piece by piece as money was available. The new clubhouse opened in 1958.
In 1960, the club established a scholarship for female seniors at Martin County high schools. The first one was $300. Since then, the club has awarded ??? for college scholarships for high school seniors and women returning to college or enrolled in vocational training.
Starting in 1976, the Junior Woman’s Club refurbished the Tri-County Recreation Center that was built during World War II. This project, which cost more than $75,000, resulted in the county establishing a Parks and Recreation Department.
In the 1970s, the club helped build the Hacienda Girls Ranch for disadvantaged and homeless girls, helped purchase dialysis equipment for the Martin County hospital, and supported the cross-Florida canal, for which President Richard Nixon sent us a thank you letter that hangs in the boardroom.
In the 1990s, the Woman’s Club had a rededication of the Lady Abundance statue when it was moved from Memorial Park to its permanent home at Haney’s Circle during the renovation of downtown Stuart.
Over the years, the Woman’s Club of Stuart has worked tirelessly to serve the needs of Stuart and Martin County. In the last 11 years, the club has awarded $243,000 in scholarships. In 2013, the women celebrated the club’s 100th anniversary with a retrospective and an open house for the community.