More than a century ago, organizers of the storied 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair needed to arrange social opportunities for the wives of dignitaries attending the exposition. A group of local women stepped up, and The St. Louis Woman’s Club was born. Originally housed in an old Washington Avenue home, the club moved to its present locale, 4600 Lindell Blvd., in 1912. Today, members continue to enjoy networking, educational and social programs of many kinds. The club’s holiday traditions include decorating its stately 1895 home and holding parties, dances and candlelight dinners. Other programs examine issues in fine arts, architecture and current events. Spouses and significant others are welcome to attend evening activities.

“It’s a wonderful place for women to gather for edification and social enjoyment,” says club president Anne von der Heydt. Recent programs have included presentations by speakers from the Saint Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Symphony; a panel discussion with members of the Ferguson Commission; a talk by St. Louis alderwoman Lyda Krewson about development in St. Louis’ central corridor; and trips to Cahokia Mounds, Ste. Genevieve and Natchez, Mississippi. A bridge group and book club are available as well.

There are opportunities for members to give back to the community, too. An annual fashion show benefits local charities, and a garden tour raises money for college stipends for young women from Metro Academic and Classical High School.

Women pay a one-time membership fee to join and quarterly dues; they must live in metropolitan St. Louis, be proposed by a member and sponsored by two other members, then be approved by the club’s board of governors. “We have members from Illinois,” von der Heydt says. “We also have retired members who spend a lot of time in Florida, for example, so they pay an adjusted fee. And there’s a junior membership level for women under 40.” The club has about 120 women on its rolls; it holds prospective member events three times a year. Members from reciprocal clubs in other cities can ask to join upon moving to St. Louis.

The club’s elegant spaces include a dining room, theater and ballroom, and there’s a staffed kitchen to create meals for events. Outside groups can use the space for their get-togethers, too. “You can have weddings, bat mitzvahs and other gatherings here,” von der Heydt says. Outside requests are voted on by the board, and a member is appointed to ‘sponsor’ the event once it’s approved. Town&Style recently staged a photo shoot in the dining room for its staff holiday greeting. Von der Heydt says the club prides itself on welcoming a variety of members. “We have women of all ages, and those who work full time and part time. We are culturally and ethnically diverse,” she says. “Wonderful friendships are formed here.”

what » A private women’s club, available to the public for special events
where » 4600 Lindell Blvd.
why » To offer women social, networking and educational opportunities pertaining to the arts and sciences

Photo: Bill Barrett