The Houston Heights Woman’s Club (HHWC) was founded in 1900, part of the larger women’s club movement across the country. What began as the Houston Heights Literary Club outgrew the parlors of its members and in 1912, the Clubhouse at 1846 Harvard became the official home of the HHWC, and quickly became a hub of the community. Through volunteerism and social activities, generations of HHWC members have kept the legacy of our founders alive.
The history of volunteerism and community service by members of the HHWC ranges from creation of a library at Heights High School to working as Red Cross volunteers during both World Wars.
The mission of the Houston Heights Woman's Club is to preserve the historic integrity of the club and its clubhouse, and provide activities for its members including charitable, educational and social activities supporting such purposes as a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
History of the Houston Heights Woman's Club
The club was organized on January 15, 1900 as the Houston Heights Literary Club. Sixteen women attended the meeting at the home of Mrs. C. R. Cummings. In April, the group voted to make a small monthly assessment so that calls for charity might be met. This was the beginning of much charity work sponsored by the club.
During 1905, the club members wanted to start a library for the high school. Money was raised to buy books and equipment. With assistance from city libraries and cooperation from the school board the library became a reality.
By 1909, the membership had grown enough that in March 1909, Mr. O.M. Carter granted permission for the meetings to be held in a room at the powerhouse of his electrical plant.
The charter for the club was obtained by Hortense Ward in 1911, the same year in which Mr. and Mrs. D. D. (Helen) Cooley (Dr. Denton Cooley’s grandmother) donated the lot on which the clubhouse would be built.
During the presidency of Mrs. W. G. Love, the Heights Woman’s Club (HHWC) started the first Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Cooley Elementary School
On March 7, 1911, the Houston Heights Music Study Club was organized and subsequently become part of the HHWC.
In 1912, as a result of the enthusiasm to learn china painting, the Arts and Crafts Club was formed and became part of the HHWC.
The members of the club borrowed $1,200 and had the club house built. It opened September 3, 1912. The HHWC club house is the oldest club house in Houston, and has been used continuously since it opened.
As a testimony to the importance of education and learning, the HHWC erected the Memorial Garden at the Houston Heights Public Library in 1936.
During World War I and World War II, the American Red Cross used the club house to make surgical dressings for the soldiers. (All social activities at the club house were suspended during this time.)
In 1922, a make-shift kitchen was added to the club house and in 1926 the heating system for the club house was changed from coal to gas.
In 1947, the members began purchasing sterling silver serving pieces, such as trays, for use in the club house. (Unfortunately, many of these pieces have been stolen.)
In 1953, the membership voted to spend $1,032 for capital improvements on the club house including the addition of the oak hardwood floors, painting, and bracing the building.
In 1957, the membership voted to install five window unit air conditioners in the club house.
In 1978, the HHWC sold the club house to the Heights Homeowner’s Association (HHA) for $10 because the members could not afford to maintain the house. The HHA used the building for many years, until they secured the Heights fire station for their meetings. The HHWC is grateful to the HHA for maintaining the building and donating the chairs still used today in the club house. The club house was deeded back to HHWC in March, 1997.
A need was identified to include women who were unable to participate in the events of the HHWC day group (now known as the Heritage Group), and in November 2006 the first meeting of the HHWC Evening Group was held. Women can become a member of either the day group or the Evening Group. Both groups continue to offer charitable and social activities.
Gratitude to Leah Braden for providing this history.