Woman’s Club of Rutherford Launches Capital Campaign
In April 2017 the Woman's Club of Rutherford’s Clubhouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This humble acclamation was the result of five years and hundreds of volunteer hours to attain the distinction as one of America’s most important cultural, architectural and historic treasures.
Achieving this important listing began the celebration of the Woman’s Club of Rutherford’s 130 year anniversary and the start of their Capital Campaign.
Woman’s Club Co-Presidents Evelyn Spath-Mercado and Susanna Kevra summed up the effort:
“The preservation of this gem requires time, money and a lot of tender loving care. Historic renovations are expensive and the Club has researched matching grants to finance the much needed repairs. The key word here is “matching”. The Club’s ability to finance our share has to be confirmed before a grant will be awarded.”
To that end, the Club is launching its first Capital Campaign to raise funds to keep this gem in the heart of Rutherford.
Rutherford Historian William Neumann researched the history of the Club and its acquisition of the clubhouse at the corner of Fairview and Montross Avenues. His research formed the original application for Certification of Eligibility (COE) for Register consideration. The research was included within the final national registration process
It all began in January 1889 when Mrs. Margret G. Riggs invited 22 charter members to form the Woman’s Reading Club of Rutherford. The first meetings were held in her Ridge Road living room and were established to advance literacy and social interaction between local women. This was one of the earliest woman’s clubs in New Jersey, well established a year before the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (1890) and five years before the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs (November 1894.)
An innovative idea was proposed that the Club contribute its books and funds to the creation of a Free Library Association. They established the Rutherford Public Library in 1894.
In 1924 the Club was incorporated and the name was changed from the Woman’s Reading Club to The Woman’s Club of Rutherford NJ, Inc. That same year the Club purchased the structure and corner lot located at the intersection of Montross Avenue and Fairview Avenue in Rutherford.
The building was part of an estate known as “Iviswold” owned by David B. Ivison, a successful New York publisher. The building served as a Carriage House and Stables for Iviswold, on the campus of what is now Felician University.
The building was designed by master architect William H. Miller of Ithaca, NY, and built between 1887 and 1891 in the English Tudor Revival Style. The interior layout was altered to accommodate the needs of the Woman’s Club activities. The alterations were designed by architect Edgar I. Williams, brother of the renowned poet Williams Carlos Williams.
The Club still operates from this building, and the organization’s long history of participation in the community represents the ideals expressed through the Women’s Progressive Movement (1887-1940) in the United States.
As the club approached its 50th Anniversary Celebration in 1939, it could reflect on the first half century of existence with great satisfaction on its civic advancements. Woman’s Club member Margaret R. Smith would write. “Our members have served on the Board of Education, as Trustees of the Rutherford Free Public Library, on the Rutherford Planning Board, the Rutherford Recreation Committee and have supported the General and State Federations of Woman's Clubs”.
At 86, Mrs. Arthur Collins was unable to make the April 24th 1939 celebration. However, she sent her warm regards as the last of the original 1889 Charter Members. Just 10 years later, the mortgage for the 1924 building acquisition was paid and “burned” at the 60th anniversary of the founding of the original Woman’s Reading Club.
And now, with the present listing on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, the clubhouse truly represents the physical embodiment of both the past and the future of the Woman’s Club of Rutherford.
A grant from Bergen County’s Historic Preservation Trust Fund enabled the Club to commence work towards restoring its unique architecture and preserving its extraordinary history. The Club has now applied for further grants to continue the preservation work and is reaching out to the community for their participation.
Rutherford residents will receive a mailing requesting their help to raise the matching funds so that this historic building will remain a treasure in Rutherford for future generations. All donations are welcome and can be mailed to:
Woman’s Club of Rutherford
201 Fairview Avenue
Rutherford, NJ 07070
The Woman's Club of Rutherford 201 Fairview Avenue, Rutherford, NJ 07070