The Woman’s Club Today: Fire, Flexibility, and Future

The last eight years have brought numerous challenges to the Woman’s Club’s operations. The club has long funded its community and charity projects through revenue generated from lending their space out for private events.

Yet on February 17th, 2015, a devastating fire destroyed about half of the entire building, and with it the lucrative venue space. When the Woman’s Club was able to reopen their restored Phoenix Room to the public, they were forced to close just two weeks later due to COVID-19 protocol.

Current members of the Woman’s Club remain optimistic, however, and continue to host frequent charity events and volunteer their time to bettering the community. In 2021, for example, the Woman’s Club joined Wilmette’s Community Caretaker Program in obtaining vaccination appointments for older and vulnerable residents.

Though membership at the Woman’s Club has decreased since the early 1900s, as women establish careers and gain access to more channels of participation in civil society, the Woman’s Club persists through its flexibility. Sections of the building are being restored for new purposes, including office space for working women. As co-president Edie Rowell puts it, “We built this building for another 130 years.”