History

The Atlanta Woman’s Club was formed in 1895 following a meeting of the Cotton States Exposition in Piedmont Park. The council of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was in held Atlanta and Mrs. Rebecca Douglas Lowe, our founder, was present at this meeting.

Following the meeting at Piedmont Park in the fall of 1895, Mrs. Lowe gathered together a group of interested ladies in her home. That was the beginning of The Atlanta Woman’s Club.

Our first home was in Mrs. Lowe’s home. The Club then moved to the McGhee Opera Building in downtown Atlanta, which we knew as the Lowe’s Grand Theatre. In 1910 the Club purchased its first home, which was the Christian Science building located on West Baker Street at the intersection of Peachtree Street and West Peachtree. It was a colonial home originally, which the ladies endeavored to restore. The Atlanta Woman’s Club remained in that home until 1920 at which time we moved into our current home, The Wimbish House 19. For more information, please visit: The Wimbish House.

For more than 100 years, the Atlanta Woman’s Club has played a historical and pivotal role in Atlanta’s History. As quoted by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roslyn Carter in their foreword in “A Light on Peachtree: A History of the Atlanta Woman’s Club – “Many in Atlanta may not realize that our city and the state of Georgia could have faced a very different history had it not been for the successful advocacy and funding of several important projects undertaken by the Atlanta Woman’s Club, most notably with the inception and development of the Atlanta airport… ”

The Atlanta Woman’s Club has made significant contributions and noteworthy accomplishments during our earliest years in the first two decades of the 20th century. Early AWC members helped to establish the following in the 1st two decades of the 20th century:

  • Atlanta’s kindergartens, by financially supporting and lobbying to incorporate kindergartens into the public school system
  • A mobile library in cooperation with the Southern Railway Co. to get a lending library into rural areas
  • Tallulah Falls School, founded in 1909 to bring education to Appalachian children, flourishing today, and in 2009 celebrated its centennial
  • The 1st art gallery in Atlanta, located in the Wimbish House
  • The “Sweet Auburn Curb Market,” Atlanta’s Municipal Market–still a favorite and very successful operation after nearly 75 years–to help farmers sell their produce to Atlanta residents
  • The building of a technically advanced and acoustically sound auditorium which hosted numerous operas, plays, concerts, and recitals greatly enriching Atlanta’s cultural life, especially in the over 4 decades prior to the building of the Woodruff Arts Center
  • The planting of 1,000 flowering peach trees along Peachtree Street from the Wimbish House, at 14th and Peachtree, all the way to Oglethorpe University
  • The Mayor’s Memory Grove in Piedmont Park to honor all of Atlanta’s mayors, a grove that still stands and provides beauty and shade to the park’s visitors
  • The Atlanta Airport, now known as the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and today the busiest airport in the world. AWC was a very important “player” in the planning and building of the city’s first airport. Regular air service in Atlanta began at Candler Field in May 1928 ensuring Atlanta’s continued and increasing importance as a transportation center.
  • A reputation for being a focal point of civic and social events, but, more importantly, for members’ dedication to making a difference in the lives of people in our local and global community.

For more information on the history of the Atlanta Woman’s Club, please click here.

Our Headquarters-The Wimbish House History

The Wimbish House serves as our headquarters, and it is affectionately known as the “Old Lady of Peachtree.” The house is a designated national, state and city historical landmark in the heart of Midtown, and is admired by many throughout the State of Georgia.Our Club’s monthly membership and executive meetings are held in the clubhouse, as well as the many special events that we host. The Wimbish House facilities may be rented for use for wedding ceremonies, bridal showers, bar and bat mitzvahs, office parties, and other events find this mansion quite an extraordinary venue! A significant portion of the proceeds from all event rentals are used to support charitable works of the Atlanta Woman’s Club which benefit our community.

The Wimbish House was commissioned in 1906 by prominent Atlanta attorney William A. Wimbish as a residence befitting his family’s social status. Inspired by the Wimbishes’ visit to the home of friends in the south of France shortly after their marriage and prior to the turn of the 20th century. They were impressed with the beauty of their friends’ sandstone French Chateau and sought to emulate it upon their return to Atlanta. Mr. Wimbish acquired the services of Mr. Walter T. Downing. As a young architect, Downing achieved fame and success by winning the competition to build “The Fine Arts Building” for the International Cotton States Exhibition in the fall of 1895, which was held at what is now Piedmont Park.

An eclectic architect who experimented with Romanesque, Gothic, Tudor, Renaissance Revival, Italian, French, etc. styles, Walter Downing’s buildings include various buildings on college and university campuses–Shorter, Oglethorpe, Ga. Tech; the Healey Building (1913); Cherokee Town Club on West Paces Ferry, formerly the John Grant House (1921); various churches—Trinity Methodist Church (1911), First Presbyterian Church (1919), Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1897-98); the William P. Nicolson House (1891), renamed the Shellmont Bed & Breakfast Inn at 821 Piedmont Ave. (404-872-9290) in midtown & listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Wimbish House is one of the few remaining homes along what was once known as Atlanta’s fashionable “Mansion Row.” The Wimbish Family lived in the home from 1906 to 1919. In 1919, the women of the Atlanta Woman’s Club purchased the home for use as their Clubhouse for $47,500. The first meeting of the Atlanta Woman’s Club in The Wimbish House was in February 1920. Among the most famous of invited guests in the 1920’s was Houdini who presented a program as a magician and lecturer in March of 1924.

Today, our lovely Victorian-era home which is beautifully restored, nestles proudly among Midtown’s dramatic corporate skyscrapers, stylish hotels and trendy restaurants, and celebrated cultural arts venues. The Wimbish House provides a magical backdrop for the most momentous of occasions. Located in the heart of Midtown near the intersection of 14th St. and Peachtree St., this historic venue is a reminder of the life on Peachtree Street at the turn of the century. For more information, please visit: http://www.thewimbishhouse.com.

Quotes

When we as human beings focus on giving ourselves and enhancing the lives of others, we also enhance our own lives. Self-worth comes from within, and it develops through knowing we are valued and have a purpose for living. There is a need in our nation and in our world for improvement of people’s self-worth. There is a strong need for GFWC to prosper, to thrive. We must mentor our young people to understand the value of volunteering. — Rose Ditto, Ph.D. International GFWC President, 2008-2010

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