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.
The Club continued being a force within the community from 1920-1950. 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. The first scholarship program was also established by these women.
During the next 30 years, the mortgage on the clubhouse was paid off by the Club. It is 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 women were holding fulltime jobs outside the home by the late 1980s. Woman’s Club membership began to fall as women focused on work and family, juggling two fulltime 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 2021 the Club is celebrating 119 years of dedicated service to the community.