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WOMAN'S CLUB'S 100

The Dade City Woman's Club looks back on a century of achievements.

The Dade City Woman's Club once persuaded the City Commission to pass an ordinance banning nuisance cattle from roaming the streets and leaving droppings in the city's gardens.

The group also marked the spots where early travelers could find clean drinking water along the city's roads, and, after the passage of the 19th Amendment, hosted seminars for women on the importance of voting.

You can get a lot done in a century.

The Dade City Woman's Club celebrates its 100th anniversary Saturday with a reception at its headquarters on Palm Avenue.

The club began in 1909 as a women's auxiliary group to the Board of Trade, which preceded the city's Chamber of Commerce. According to history compiled by group members, approximately 15 women met for the first time in a borrowed space off Meridian Avenue.

Fast forward a century, and the club now has its own building, a 1926 structure accepted in 2003 to the National Register of Historic Places. Yearly dues have jumped from $1 to $40, and current members say they don't have as much time for high tea as their founding mothers did.

"We're busier today. We have families. We're working. We volunteer in the school and other places," said Dina Bardin, the group's co-president.

The club now has two presidents, a change recently made to accommodate the busy schedules of its members.

"In 1910, women basically stayed home and raised children," said Bardin.

While the majority of its original members were housewives, Dade City history buff Bill Dayton, 64, said that some of the group's founders were career women who ran their own businesses - an exception to the norm at the time.

"From the beginning, that organization probably had more active businesswomen than any other organization, certainly in the county, and maybe the whole area," he said.

The nearly 30 women who make up the club today are teachers, business owners, moms and accountants. Bardin, 40, runs a trucking company with her brothers.

At their meetings on the second Thursday of the month, many come straight from work, BlackBerries abuzz.

They have little time to change out of their work clothes, let alone don the fancy frocks worn by their predecessors.

"We're a little more casually dressed than they were 100 years ago," Bardin said with a laugh.

But the group has the same goal it did a century ago, she said: giving back to the community.

In its early years, the Woman's Club and friends operatedthe city's library.They raised money to fight tuberculosis and helped establish a Red Cross chapter in Dade City.

"The Woman's Club frequently put its influence behind different movements to improve the town," Dayton said.

The group's current projects include school supply drives and programs to get shoes for poor children in the community.

To boost its numbers for the next century, the club is having a membership drive today. The club is open to women 18 and up. You do not have to live in Dade City to join.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

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FAST FACTS

If you go

The Dade City Woman's Club is having a meet and greet at 7 p.m. today. The group celebrates its 100th anniversary at 7 p.m Saturday. Both events take place at the club's building, 37922 Palm Ave. Dade City. Call (352) 521-0766.

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