Grayson County TXGenWeb
Denison, Texas

XXI Club, Denison, Texas

Texas Historical Marker:

1101 W. Morgan Street: Present home of XXI Club. Founded Oct. 14, 1890, by ten early social leaders. A charter member of Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. Its two-story brick hall, built 1896, was the first women’s clubhouse in Texas. Had facilities for music, drama, art. Gave Denison
its first free public library, 1896-1935

XXI Club
901 West Gandy Street
ca. 1910.
This was the first woman's club house in Texas. It contained Denison's first public library.

[Note: As of March 2013, the XXI Club is no longer housed at 1101 West Morgan Street, and the historic marker stands in front of the Denison
Public Library at 300 West Gandy Street. The library also has a collection of documents pertaining to the club.]



The fall of 1890 saw the founding of the XXI Club, a visionary ladies cultural club. By 1896, the group had the first Women’s Club building in Texas.

Denison was without a library until 1890, when two culturally minded young women, Edith Menefee and Cora Lingo, called a meeting of nine of their friends at the home of Mrs. Paul Waples. On October 14, 1890, they voted to organize the XXI Club and Library (so named because the memberships would always be limited to twenty-one). Its purpose was to sponsor the “pursuit of study as a means of intellectual culture and general improvement” among its members, while also serving the community in myriad ways. It was the second woman’s club in Texas; the first, the Bronte Club, was
organized in Victoria in 1873. The XXI Club was a charter member of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. [Later
Gainesville had a "XLI

Early leaders of Denison's XXI Club, Edith Menefee and Lily B. Hathaway.
Detail from page 1102 of Jennie Cunningham Croly, The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America. (New York: H. G. Allen, 1898), vol. I.
Thanks to Jim Sears who located this source.
See whole book at

Originally, membership in group was originally limited to twenty-one women. But the by-laws published in 1897-1898 don't mention a limit; at that
time the membership list numbered fifty-five. Something obviously changed between 1890 and 1897.

The organization struggled to survive until J. T. Munson took an interest. He assisted the ladies in incorporating in 1892, making the XXI the second
oldest federated women’s club in the state. In 1896, he presented them with a deed to two lots fronting on Gandy and extending sixty feet along Scullin Avenue. With the property deed went his check for $4,000 to help establish the library. Andrew Carnegie later gave $1,700 more.

"The XXI Club and Library Building. Founded and Endowed by J. T. Munson. Erected 1896.
The Only Women's Club Building in Texas."
Source: Robinson, Frank M., comp. Industrial Denison. [N.p.]: Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909]. Page 101.

The two-story brick hall erected on the property made XXI the first women’s club in Texas to have its own building. Music, drama, and art activities
were housed here, in addition to the library. There was a large auditorium on the first floor.

When other communities derisively pointed to Denison as being the largest town in Texas without a public library, the residents only smiled. The XXI
Club collection included more than 3,000 reference books, thousands of other volumes and many rare first editions. By any standards, it ranked in
quality alongside most public libraries in cities of similar size.

In 1925, subsoil conditions forced the XXI Club to abandon its two-story home that housed the library. With no adequate place for the books, the
members voted to divide them among libraries at the city’s two high schools and Austin College.

For many years, the XXI Club was housed in a white frame building at 1101 West Morgan Street, across from Sam Houston Elementary School. Eventually the club left this structure, but it continued to meet at the Denison Public Library.

In the early 1940s, a residence constructed on the site at 901 West Gandy was the home of Denison city manager Harold Schmitzer.

Source: Jack Maguire, Katy’s Baby: The Story of Denison, Texas (Austin: Nortex Press, 1991), pp. 77-78.

* * *

One of the organizations in Denison that indicates both the culture and public spirit of its people is the XXI Club, an association of women. They own
a very fine two-story brick building that is used for library and club purposes, having a large auditorium on the first floor. This is one of the very few
club buildings west of the Mississippi River controlled exclusively by women
. (Source : Frank M. Robinson, comp.  Industrial Denison. [N.p.]:
Means-Moore Co., [ca.1909].

Interior of XXI Club
901 West Gandy Street, before 1925
Courtesy of Jim Sears, who obtained this photo from the National Women's History Museum, Alexandria, VA.
The museum has a collection of photos from the General Federation of Women's Clubs; these came from the
Women's History and Resource Center at the GFWC's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

* * *

The annual booklets of Denison's XXI Club suggest how intellectually ambitious the club members were in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Of course, that was before television or even movies were invented!

XXI Club, Annual Booklets

(In collection of Denison Public Library, inventoried November 17, 2008)

1891–92 (tan cover, horizontal)

1892–93 (green, japonesque design)

1893–94 (white textured, japonesque design)

1894–1895 (brown cover)

1895–96 (2 copies, both grey)

1896–97 (tan japonesque design)

1897–98 (white textured)

1898–99 (alligator print cover)

1899–1900 (2 copies; one green, one pink)

1900–1901 (dark cream)

1901–1902 (dark brown)

1902–1903 (dark brown)

1903–1904 (engraving of XXI Club building on cover)

1904–1905 (cream cover)

1905–1906 (cream cover)

1906–1907 (black

1909–1910 (dark ivory)

1910–1911 (tan mottled)

1911–1912 (ivory)

1913–1914 (bark texture cover)

1920–21 (pink cover)

1921–22 (grey cover)

1922–23 (yellow)

1923–24 (peach)

1925–26 (ivory)

1927–1928 (ivory)

1937–1938 (tan; vertical)

1939–1940 (tan)

1946–1947 (tan)

* * *

According to Jim Sears, the XXI Club's emblem, seen on the 1897-98 club booklet, represented "the torch of knowledge encircled by the laurel wreath of achievement, with a little bow thrown in at the bottom. The torch and the wreath are both commonly used symbols with origins in Greek and Roman mythology. The torch is on the back of the United States dime and in one hand of the Statue of Liberty, which was dedicated just four years prior to the organization of the XXI Club."



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