As the oldest ongoing organized club in Hopkins, we are alive and well and growing in traditions started in 1908.
On its 80th anniversary celebration, Ardelle Wenzel Linc described Hopkins at the turn of the century. “Try to imagine the unsightly streets of Hopkins,” she said. “Rubbish was strewn up and down Main Street and in front of many stores; cream cans were used as spittoons. So, in 1908, the ladies rustled their bustles and declared something should be done to beautify the Village of Hopkins. They organized the Woman’s Improvement League.”
Their first project was to buy and strategically place spittoons for the tobacco-chewing men who sat on wooden benches in front of the stores. In 1911, the first park was created at 11th and Excelsior and the following year a library was established with over 800 books being donated.
By 1915, the League had 30 members and joined the National Federation of Woman’s Clubs. Always thinking of beautifying the village, the women planted many flowerbeds and donated trees which the men planted. Rummage sales, a food concession stand at the Hennepin County Fairgrounds on 16th Avenue South, and the sale of handmade items raised funds for ongoing welfare projects. They also solicited funds to have a women’s restroom built at the Fairgrounds: There was no need for a men’s restroom, they contended.
Welfare work was always ongoing. They gave food, sheets, clothing, shoes and eyeglasses to the needy. The ladies sewed for the tuberculosis patients at the Glen Lake Sanatorium along with layettes and diapers for needy families.
The League bought 51 cemetery plots to give to the poor. The cemetery was on Washington Avenue South and was called “Paupers Field.” Later the graves were moved across the street to Grand View Cemetery. Many of the people buried there had come to Hopkins in covered wagons.
In 1915, a resolution was sent to the Village Council to consider plans to flood a vacant lot for a skating rink. In 1917, the League organized the Hopkins Branch of the American Red Cross. They donated 998 garments that had been sewn by the ladies during that year.
Agnes Blake organized the Hopkins PTA in 1920. During the war the League made bandages, worked for Crusade for Freedom, the Indian Fund, and for Civil Defense. They had victory gardens, saved fats and oils and bought bonds. For many years the club supported Foreign Exchange students.
In 1947, the name was changed to The Woman’s Club of Hopkins. The club sponsored the formation of Hopkins Newcomers Club; later that name was changed to West Suburban Woman’s Club.
In February 1974, Jeanette Blake (Agnes Blake’s daughter-in-law) initiated the drive to create a park for Senior Citizens in the downtown area. Three months later, the Hopkins City Council approved the park between 9th and 10th Avenues, south of Main Street.
Through the years, the village became a city and the spirit of the Woman’s Club of Hopkins endured. Its distinguished past has laid a solid foundation for today’s service projects which members support monetarily and/or with volunteer hours. These include Resource West and ICA separately and jointly through Empty Bowls; Feed My Starving Children; Sojourner; “Teaming Up For Teens”; and MOVEFWD (formerly Teens Alone). The club’s annual $1,000 scholarship to a senior girl graduating from Hopkins High School comes from yearlong loose change donations made during monthly luncheons and from special drawings and raffles throughout the year.
To acknowledge the club’s name members commonly use, in 2018 the Hopkins Women’s Club became its third official name.