Our clubhouse building is the oldest and most visible member of our club. It has served our community for over 100 years. To preserve that legacy and to equip the clubhouse for another 100 years of service, the building needs to be restored to its original beauty and receive improvements that will equip it for 21st century entertaining and outreach. The club’s first two Red Hot Hibiscus Galas in 2007 and 2008 were successful in raising nearly $250,000 toward the total project, which will cost an estimated $900,000.
As a tribute to the women who founded the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club and gave the city this historic clubhouse and in recognition of the contribution this city’s women have made to improving the lives of all who live here, we had hoped to complete the restoration/renovation in time for the club’s centennial celebration in January 2011. Architectural drawing by architect Susan McClellan, a member of FLWC.
Phase 1 Completion
We were partially successful, and Phase 1, including the original front porch, was completed in time for the 100th birthday celebration!
On Friday, January 14, 2011, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on the steps of the Clubhouse with Mayor Jack Seiler, Vice-Mayor Romney Rogers, Commissioner Bobby DuBose and members of the FLWC in attendance. The ribbon cutting marked the completion of phase 1 of the renovation of the clubhouse, a project that had its inception 10 years ago.
The next phase of the renovation was to include restoration of the original Dade County Pine floor. We were hoping to be able to raise enough money before it was started. However, in the summer of 2012, a renter moved the baby grand piano to the front of the room where it went through the weakened floor. Emergency measures had to be taken immediately! After much discussion and several meetings, it was decided that the club had to obtain a mortgage to replace the flooring entirely. As is often the case, additional complications were discovered and the work took four months to complete. Finally, on January 11, 2013, the Club’s 102nd birthday, a Grand Re-Opening Ceremony was held and we were once again open for meetings as well as rentals!
The fireplace, which was boarded up many years ago, was the first part of the renovations to be completed. Shown in the photo of the finished product are Kathy Ireland Mitchell and Susan McClellan, club members who were instrumental in the project. Kathy and her husband Andy, whose mother Barbara Mitchell was a member of the GFWC Southside Woman’s Club in Jacksonville, “bought” the fireplace in an auction held at the First Annual Red Hibiscus Gala to raise funds for the renovations. There is a plaque placed on the fireplace in Barbara’s memory. Susan is the architect in charge of the entire project. On January 14, 2008 the copper hood was added to the fireplace which completes the historical look from 1917. During the summer, sconces were added to the sides and a faux fire now burns in the fireplace.
In early January, 2008 work began on the new roof, a replica of the original 1917 roof. Above we see a truck filled with debris from the old roof and workers who have just completed the new copper flashing.
From original Restoration Chairman Judy Dixon: “The roof is finished! And, yes, it is supposed to look the way it does!! And it should last at least 50 years. We also have a new drop ceiling that will not get wet anymore from the roof leaks! Also our fire alarm system has been installed so the club is finally protected.
We invite everyone in the community to become a partner in restoring this icon of Fort Lauderdale’s early history and beacon of its future. The Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club is a jewel in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
If you wish to join us in preserving the legacy and ensuring continuing service, please click here to learn about sponsorships and other giving opportunities.