Club, Denison, Texas
W. Morgan Street: Present home of XXI Club. Founded Oct. 14, 1890, by
social leaders. A charter member of Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs.
two-story brick hall, built 1896, was the first women’s clubhouse in
facilities for music, drama, art. Gave Denison
its first free public library,
This was the
first woman's club house in Texas. It contained Denison's first public
As of March 2013, the XXI Club is no longer housed at 1101 West Morgan
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
fall of 1890 saw the founding of the XXI Club, a visionary ladies
By 1896, the group had the first Women’s Club building in Texas.
was without a library until 1890, when two culturally minded young
Menefee and Cora Lingo, called a meeting of nine of their friends at
of Mrs. Paul Waples. On October 14, 1890, they voted to organize the
and Library (so named because the memberships would always be limited
twenty-one). Its purpose was to sponsor the “pursuit of study as a
intellectual culture and general improvement” among its members, while
serving the community in myriad ways. It was the second woman’s club in
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 http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/3031533?n=1121
membership in group was originally limited to twenty-one
women. But the by-laws published in 1897-1898 don't mention a limit; at
time the membership list numbered fifty-five. Something obviously
1890 and 1897.
organization struggled to survive until J. T. Munson took an interest.
assisted the ladies in incorporating in 1892, making the XXI the second
federated women’s club in the state. In 1896, he presented them with a
two lots fronting on Gandy and extending sixty feet along Scullin
the property deed went his check for $4,000 to help establish the
Carnegie later gave $1,700 more.
Club and Library Building. Founded and Endowed by J. T. Munson. Erected
The Only Women's Club Building in Texas."
Source: Robinson, Frank M., comp. Industrial Denison.
[N.p.]: Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909]. Page 101.
two-story brick hall erected on the property made XXI the first women’s
Texas to have its own building. Music, drama, and art activities
here, in addition to the library. There was a large auditorium on the
other communities derisively pointed to Denison as being the largest
Texas without a public library, the residents only smiled. The XXI
collection included more than 3,000 reference books, thousands of other
and many rare first editions. By any standards, it ranked in
most public libraries in cities of similar size.
1925, subsoil conditions forced the XXI Club to abandon its two-story
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
many years, the XXI Club was housed in a white frame building at 1101
Morgan Street, across from Sam Houston Elementary School. Eventually
left this structure, but it continued to meet at the Denison Public
early 1940s, a residence constructed on the site at 901 West Gandy was
of Denison city manager Harold Schmitzer.
Jack Maguire, Katy’s Baby: The Story of
Denison, Texas (Austin: Nortex Press, 1991), pp. 77-78.
the organizations in Denison that indicates both the culture and public
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,
large auditorium on the first floor. This is one of the very few
west of the Mississippi River controlled exclusively by women.
Frank M. Robinson, comp. Industrial Denison.
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
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
Club, Annual Booklets
of Denison Public Library, inventoried November 17, 2008)
(tan cover, horizontal)
(green, japonesque design)
(white textured, japonesque design)
(2 copies, both grey)
(tan japonesque design)
(alligator print cover)
(2 copies; one green, one pink)
(engraving of XXI Club building on cover)
(bark texture cover)
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
thrown in at the bottom. The torch and the wreath are both commonly
symbols with origins in Greek and Roman mythology. The torch is on the
the United States dime and in one hand of the Statue of Liberty, which
dedicated just four years prior to the organization of the XXI Club."