This is The Woman's Club of Rutherford: Community Service with a History
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
by Jennifer Ersalesi
The Woman’s Club of Rutherford has been part of the Rutherford community since 1928. Before it became known as the Woman’s Club, the group was called the Woman’s Reading Club, which had been organized by a woman named Margaret Riggs in 1889. Throughout the centuries, the club has always welcomed all women in the community. Every year, the club has supported the local community, as well as projects both state and nationwide. The current Co-Presidents of the Club, Evelyn Spath-Mercado and Susan Kevra told us more about the club and its unique place in history.
The current co-Presidents of the Club, Evelyn Spath-Mercado and Susan Kevra told us more about the club and its unique place in history.
TIR: The Woman’s Clubhouse is a beautiful building that was once the carriage house for “Iviswold-The Castle”. On January 27th, 2019, the Woman’s Club held an Open House at the Clubhouse and there was memorabilia dating back to 1889 on display. This was a wonderful opportunity for community members to learn about the history of the Clubhouse and why it is now recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Tell us more about the Open House.
ESM: The Open House was a way for the community of Rutherford to view the club and understand more of what we do. We are in the middle of a Capital Campaign and we invited donors and the general public. Our history was available for all to see in addition to information about our Preservation Plan.
TIR: It is a wonderful honor for the town and the Woman’s Club that the Woman’s Clubhouse is now on the National Register of Historic Places (April 2017). What was the process like to finally be recognized in this way?
ESM: The membership felt it was time to preserve a treasure in Rutherford and raise awareness of the history of the building both architecturally and culturally. We also knew that rapid development in town could lead to a developer looking at our property as a terrific corner to try and purchase. The process took many years and required much investigation and research to prove how valuable we are. Many thought that our club was owned by Felician and had no idea why we were worth preserving.
TIR: It took a lot of time and effort to receive the recognition of one of the buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The members of the club worked together to apply for a number of grants to assist with the restoration of the Clubhouse and donations were solicited from community members through a mailing. Why is this honor especially important to the Club?
ESM: We have a very long list of outstanding members throughout the decades. Many were involved in the creation of the Public Library and Lincoln Park. Our actual minutes and history books provide constant town information and we felt we must keep on with all our service work. National recognition helps us to do that.
TIR: After paying even closer attention to all of the aspects of the building during this process, what have you learned that you love most about the Clubhouse?
ESM: Sue and I love the whole building and the pieces of history that are still there, such as the original doors and stained glass windows.
TIR: The Woman’s Club St. Patrick’s Day Dinner is on March 16th from 7 pm until 10 pm. Is this an annual event? What does the club do to make this event special?
ESM: The St. Patrick’s event is an annual event raising funds to continue our work for the community. The friendliness of all attendees, the club members who act as greeters and hosts make the evening very special. Of course, there is also delicious food! Tickets must be bought in advance and are $35 each.
TIR: Both you and Sue have been active members of the Woman’s Club for many years. How long have each of you been members?
ESM: I have been a member for more than 15 years and Sue has been a member for over 10 years. I have served on the Board for more than 10 years.
TIR: Terry Gilburn, former Woman’s Club President, explained, “The Woman’s Club is a non-profit volunteer organization that helps the community in the spirit of friendship.” What else do you want people to know about being a member of the Woman’s Club?
ESM: We are a service club that works very hard to provide assistance and support to many areas of need. We are a non-profit organization and all of our efforts are to make life better for others. We have many events throughout the year and feel that we make a difference, but also have a lot of fun doing it.
TIR: What do you enjoy most about being a member?
ESM: To know more about your town and residents is very important for a full life and I personally enjoy working with this dynamic group of women who all care a great deal about doing the right thing for our community .