Woman’s Club

Location: 1002 Washington St SE
National Register, State Register, Local Register, Women’s History

women'sclubnowWoman’s Club soon after completion, around 1908, Photo courtesy of Washington State Historical  Societywomens clubWoman’s Club today (2012), Photo courtesy of Deb Ross

Abbie (or Abby) Howard Hunt Stuart was a member of an influential group of women who set the tone of late 19th century Olympia society. Together with their supportive spouses, they advanced the causes of suffrage, temperance, and other social programs, to such an extent that Olympia became known for its progressive views throughout the West and the nation. Abbie was one of the co-founders of the Woman’s Club, the first of its kind of the West. With the encouragement of her close friend  Abigail Scott Duniway, Abbie chose not to use the club as a bully pulpit for her pro-suffrage beliefs. Instead, the club was explicitly founded as a haven for women to come together and discuss literary and other non-controversial topics. Abbie confided her secret goal to her friend Abigail: the club would be designed to attract “women who oppose the Suffrage Movement (or think they do) . . . to divest themselves of their prejudices.”

At first meeting in members’ homes, Abbie and her husband Robert hosted the Woman’s Club in their new Stuart Block building (Capitol and Legion) for a time until the club purchased a building on 10th Street. That building was later moved to a location near the current Timberland Library, and the club raised funds to build the current building, with its elegant and understated architecture melding in with the other fine residences in the neighborhood. It was completely in 1908. 

Unfortunately, Abbie died before the current building was built, and before women’s suffrage was enacted nationwide. The building is named in her honor. It is on the National Register.

Thank you to Pat Harper for information on history of the building and the club.

For further information and links, see the following:

Olympia Heritage inventory

National Register, Women’s History in Olympia

Women’s History Walking Tour

Washington State Historical Society Photos (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): C1953.18.7; C2017.0.112; C1986.43.61.1.26.1.20

Bernice Sapp, Olympia 100 Years ago

Stuart family, see Residents section of this website

Abigail Scott Duniway talk in praise of Abigail HH Stuart’s philosophy regarding women’s clubs

 

 

 

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