History Here and Now June 26, 2009

Redlands Women’s Club was entrepreneurial in fund-raising

Second in a two-part series.

The Redlands Women’s Club consisted of 68 members in 1935, a representation of virtually every family living on the Redlands. Members already had started building their own country club by the time Charles Rump suggested they buy the Grand Junction Country Club.

When negotiations began, the women’s club nearly was finished with digging a basement and owed no money. Country club members viewed the women’s club offer as robbery. The Redlands women saw the country club’s counter-proposals much the same.

The women’s club ended up buying the building and 5 acres for $5,000. The clubhouse had been built for $15,000 in 1921.

Their first meeting at the new Redlands Club was Feb. 10, 1937.

The Redlands Women’s Club became more than a quilting circle. It bloomed with ambition.

Charges for outside clubs to use the building were $20 for a dinner and dance and $17.50 for just a dance. Club room use in the basement, where the gentlemen’s lounge used to be, was $5 for a social get-together or $10 for a luncheon, with a small additional charge if the kitchen was used.

Any Redlands resident could pay a rental fee of $5 for public or private affairs. Mesa College functions and college girls were given discounts. During the first year, the club hosted the Mesa County Extension Club, B.P.O.E. (charging 85 cents a plate), the West Central Teachers Association (40 cents a plate) and the Wiseman Club, as well as held dances for 50 cents a couple to pay for music and fundraising carnivals.

At the October 1939 meeting, Opal Boss reported the club had taken in $2,179 since the previous October. They were well on their way to paying off the mortgage.

The Redlands Women’s Club found needy families throughout the county and collected food and made quilts for whomever they chose to benefit. They also worked to beautify the Redlands and appointed committees to attend district meetings regarding Redlands zoning.

They petitioned the Mesa County Commissioners to oil the Redlands road and repair dangerous bridges.

By 1941, they were helping with Red Cross sewing and donated $2.50 to the Jane Jefferson Club toward abolishing polio.

In March 1941, the club decided to have a Blossom Sunday Dinner open to the public for 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. In November, they made both that month’s and the December payment on the mortgage.

With the war now engaged, the women weren’t sure they could concentrate on mortgage payments. They arranged to sell two lots for $1,000 and asked for that to apply to the principle until after the war. They prepared to feed masses of people in case large numbers were evacuated from the coast, and they took part in scrap-metal drives. They even looked into the possibility of a Blue Cross Hospital plan for the organization.

In December 1942, they adopted a family of 14 in De Beque and provided a Christmas basket of food and clothes.

They owed $600 on the clubhouse by May of 1943. On March 8, 1944, the Redlands community enjoyed dinner, dancing and children singing. Mrs. Kate May and Mr. Borshell burned the mortgage in the middle of the floor. It took eight years of carnivals, many, many quilts, good cooking, too many dinners to count and lots of donated food and time to reach their goal.

The Redlands Club became the Redlands Community Center in 1983. As the community center, it still hosts many of the same functions it originally did and now includes weddings, catered parties and many other events for anyone to enjoy.

Thanks to Pat Gormley, the late Ila May Keithley, The Lloyd Files Research Library, The Daily Sentinel and the Fruita Times for their contributions with research.

Eileen O’Toole is a third-generation Redlands resident who is the Redlands representative for the Mesa County Historical Society.

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