The Ladies Improvement Society was organized in 1902 and is best known for establishing the Delray Beach Public Library. Did you know that 75 percent of the public libraries in this country were started by women’s groups? That group also petitioned for granting women the right to vote in local elections, and they established the first hot lunch program for school children. That Society became federated in 1924 and changed its name to the Woman’s Club of Delray Beach.
From 1920-1950, the Club continued being a force within the community. The Club was instrumental in the design of Atlantic Avenue and was influential in the construction of the bridge over the intracoastal, which extended Atlantic Avenue to the ocean. Those women also established the first scholarship program.
During the next thirty years, the Club paid off the mortgage on its clubhouse, now known as the 505 Teen Center at 505 S. Federal Highway. Continuing to support education, they assisted fundraising efforts for the new university in Boca Raton, now known as Florida Atlantic University! Naturally, the women were also busy volunteering in various organizations which provided services to the community.
Times began to change and by the late 1980’s many women were holding full-time jobs outside the home. Membership began to fall as women focused on work and family, which meant juggling two full-time roles. But women are adaptive, and today there has been a resurgence of women volunteering their time and giving back to the community. We are proud to continue being an integral and vibrant part of Delray Beach; and in 2016, the Club celebrated 114 years of dedicated service to the community.