The El Segundo Woman’s Club was founded in 1922 to promote civic, educational, and philanthropic interest in the community. The seventeen founding members, many of whom were wives of oil company workers who came from the Midwest to settle the newly formed town, recognized the necessity of fostering civic engagement. The El Segundo Woman’s Club remains the only organization of its kind in the City of El Segundo and continues to carry on the philanthropic and civic initiatives that have distinguished the organization since its founding. The Club’s Articles of Incorporation, adopted on 7 July 1931, stated “that said club is formed to promote educational, literary and philanthropic work among its members and to develop an interest in the civic, social and economic conditions of the community.”
The Club was federated with the State in 1922; with the County, General, and District Woman's Clubs in 1931; and continues as part of the Marina District. The mission of the General and State Federation of Women’s Clubs, founded in 1890 and 1900 respectively, mirrored the interests and concerns of the women forming the El Segundo Woman’s Club. Community involvement and the betterment of others locally, nationally, and internationally were at the core of the organizations, which advocated the need to “address worldwide issues and serve those in need within their communities and beyond.”
Immediately upon forming the Club, members became involved in advocating for social improvements from dealing with the offensive odors from the Hyperion Reclamation Plant to asking the school to open the Plunge swimming facility in the summer to allow people to bathe. On the issue of the Hyperion Plant, Club members enlisted support from the El Segundo City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and from organizations in neighboring cities. Concerned that El Segundo did not appear on the map of Los Angeles, members wrote letters to the Los Angeles Community Development Association, the Los Angeles Times, and the El Segundo Herald. That issue was quickly rectified, unlike the Hyperion situation that would continue to occupy Club members for many years.
In the 1920s, Club members were instrumental in supporting the community’s campaign for a high school for El Segundo; prior to this time, high school students attended Inglewood High School. El Segundo High School, designed by architects Alfred W. Rea and Charles E. Garstang, opened on 13 December 1927. Members worked to improve children’s welfare and, upon establishing a Child Welfare committee, they invited the County nurse for public schools to address one of their meetings. They supported the formation of Children’s Hospital and continued to assist the organization through charitable donations. In recognition of their community service, the Chamber of Commerce invited the Woman’s Club to become an honorary member in 1924.
In 1935, the Club’s executive board voted to use the student loan fund for emergency loans “with small amounts to students of El Segundo seeking higher education.” They established a committee to select the students and handle the disbursement of funds, not to exceed $50 per student. The students were required to sign a contract detailing repayment and the idea of interest was left to the discretion of the committee. In subsequent years, the idea of repayment was dissolved, and the funds were designated as scholarship grants. In 2022, the El Segundo Woman’s Club provided college scholarships totaling $24,000 to El Segundo High School and Arena High School seniors.
In the 1940s, Woman’s Club members supported the war effort by “working in the Red Cross canteen, sponsoring dances for soldiers, wrapping bandages, hosting blood banks in the Clubhouse, donating blood, knitting, and raising money for war bonds and the Red Cross.”
The Garden Club’s popular “Garden Exchange,” with members giving away seeds and plants to El Segundo citizens in the 1930s was expanded during World War II, to aid residents who planted their own Victory Gardens.
“Members of the El Segundo Woman’s Club had begun gathering historical memorabilia in late 1957. Items for the collection were first stored in members’ garages. When garages start to fill, the School District donated a small room in the high school administration building for the Woman’s Club to display the historical items collected from residents. When the collection outgrew this space, a basement room in City Hall was made available in 1958, and the collection was organized for public viewing by a historical committee.” This material now resides in the El Segundo Library History Room and is managed by volunteer members of the History Committee.
The El Segundo Woman’s Club’s acquisition and judicious renovation of the original 1912 El Segundo schoolhouse reflects the organization’s civic commitment to the community. By repurposing this historic building for their clubhouse, the Woman’s Club has retained an important representation of the settling and development of Southern California. The 1940 Mariposa entrance preserves a small piece of residential architecture by John C. Austin, who is primarily noted for his creation of iconic civic buildings in Los Angeles. Since its renovation, the Clubhouse has been used for member and community needs, including serving as a site to administer the polo vaccine in the late 1950s, as a gathering place for local merchants to sell their wares, and as a community rental space for personal and civic events. The revenue derived from Clubhouse rentals has enabled the Woman’s Club to fulfill one of its fundamental goals, that of donating to local, national, and international charities, as well as maintaining the building and providing college scholarships to local high school students.
El Segundo Woman's Club
541 Standard Street
El Segundo, CA 90245
501(c)(3) EIN: 23-7148174
El Segundo Woman's Club
P.O. Box 25
El Segundo, CA 90245