THE NEIGHBORHOOD CLUB 1913
By Donald M. Hill
In the early years of this century, Waban was a very small community of friendly neighbors. The only meeting place for dances, minstrel shows and plays was Waban Hall, the seating capacity of which was about one hundred and twenty-five, and you can readily see that it did not take many couples to fill the hall at a dance. The Woman's Club held its meetings in the houses of members and so did the Beacon Club. There were many houses sufficiently large for these meetings, but later they were held in the hall. The third social organization in the village was the Waban Tennis Club, which had no club house and meetings were held in some home, usually Bill Buffum's house on Beacon Street. There had been sporadic discussions of building a small club house, but nothing came of it.
As the town began to grow more and more rapidly, the meetings began to be too large for any house except the very large ones and soon too large for these. The hall was too small and for awhile Dr. Besse's barn on Beacon Street opposite the school was used, but this was soon outgrown and besides, the accommodations there were not satisfactory. Gradually the need of a larger gathering place began to be severely felt. On May 16, 1913, a joint meeting of the Waban Improvement Society, the Waban Woman's Club, the Beacon Club, and Waban Tennis Club was called, and as a result a large committee was appointed, which spent some time looking into the matter and reported against the feasibility of a club in Waban. However, due to the activities of a small group several years later, another community meeting was held and at this meeting a committee,of seven was appointed, given the green light, and told to go ahead and do the job of organizing a club and financing and building a club house. This committee was incorporated as the Waban Neighborhood Club on July 21, 1916.
It consisted of the following: Charles C. Blaney, Willis R. Fisher, Joseph W. Bartlett, Charles A. Andrews, J. Earle Parker, Lawrence Allen, and Donald M. Hill.
Of this group, Charlie Andrews was later chairman of the committee that raised the money for and built the Waban Library and gave it to the city. Will Fisher was the first treasurer of the Club and Lawrence Allen the first secretary. Don Hill and Charlie Blaney were, respectively, the first and second presidents. (Earle Parker and Jo Bartlett were both Aldermen from this Ward, and Jo was and still is Newton City Solicitor.)
Early in June, soon after
the committee started its work, an opportunity came to .buy the old Strong estate,
consisting of the house at the corner of Beacon Street and Windsor Road, now
the Episcopal Rectory, and the land surrounding this old house. Some 80,000
feet of land, having frontages of about 150 feet on Beacon Street and 275 feet
on Windsor Road, comprising the whole of the estate except the dwelling house
and about 35,000 feet of land, were purchased. The buildings and the surrounding
land were set off to the church and the remainder, being sufficient for a club
house, driveway, some land and four good tennis courts, was retained. Tom James,
an architect, formerly of Waban, drew the plans for the Club House.
On the assumption that the whole project could be put through for $30,000, it was decided to finance it by a mortgage of $15,000 and the sale of a like amount of 5 per cent debenture bonds of the denomination of $100 each.
Waban residents have always given generously of their time and money to all local needs, and the work done by workers, especially the late Jack Marvin, in seeking subscriptions, and of Waban-ites in subscribing and making the Club possible, is a shining example of this trait. The mortgage and indebtedness have since been taken care of.
The total cost of the Club was $42,481.98,distributed as follows:
Real Estate $ 4,500.00
Real Estate Improvement 4,137.62
Tennis Courts 1,964.53
Bowling Alleys 1,506.22
Furniture and Fixtures 3,465.09
Theatrical & Stage Fixtures 605.00
In addition to the $1,603.39 turned over by the Tennis Club, the Waban Woman's Club raised and contributed $924.23 towards furnishing the Club House. After the Club became a reality, the Beacon and Tennis Clubs were dissolved. The insignia of the Tennis Club is now that of the Neighborhood Club.
When the by-laws were adopted, there was considerable feeling on the part of certain conscientious objectors that Sunday-play of all kinds should be prohibited. The committee was able to satisfy everybody by adopting a by-law which prohibited activities in the Club House or on the grounds "in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth." In this way, with the change in the laws, Sunday activities are now allowed.
The Neighborhood Club was officially opened on January 12, 1918. Opening for the first time in wartimes, its social activities were to a certain extent cut down, but it was used in many ways in connection with various war activities. It was also used by the Woman's Club for meetings and has since then fulfilled the purposes for which it was built.
The history of the Club since its organization has been the usual one of clubs of this sort. At first, everybody joined because he wanted to or felt it his duty. The Club membership continued large until the hard times came when many who were looking around for means of cutting down expenses resigned. After a few years of struggle, however, the Club is now in a most flourishing condition.
The annual dramatics of the Club are invariable sellouts; people from the surrounding villages attend. Two-night stands are always necessary and the money realized is put to use in excellent fashion for benevolent enterprises as well as for the maintenance of this well-run and attractive Club, about which now centers so much of the community life of Waban.
[The Waban Neighborhood Club was renamed The Windsor Club in 1971. — J.M.]
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