On January 25, 1927, 14 women in the Yachats community formed a ladies club, calling it "The Swastika Club." It was well before the word came to be associated with Nazis, and it was a Hindu word meaning "good luck". On January 6, 1943, following World War II, the name was changed to "Yachats Ladies Club."
The organization and its members played an important part in the formation of our community over the years.
Local social events and fundraisers were held at the Yachats Dance Hall (located where the State Park is at the end of 2nd Street) and the Yachats River Grange Hall up the Yachts River valley. In January 1929 the Oregon State Highway Commission offered the dance hall to the new women's club. With a $15 down payment and an installment plan, the deal was sealed for $100.
The club meanwhile had called upon Sir Robert Perks, through his resident agent, Mr. George Frost, about obtaining an additional acre for the school's playground. This English lord had formed a company with several others and owned most of the available land in Yachats at the time. Sir Robert Perks not only donated the additional ground for the playground but also donated to the club the lot where the clubhouse now stands at West 3rd and Pontiac Street.
The ladies found out they could not own property unless they were incorporated, so they had to deal with the State and complete that task. What an ordeal it must have been for a group of women back then to complete a real estate transaction.
A loan of $200 was needed to defray the cost of moving the dance hall, and the only bank around was the Lincoln County Bank at Toledo. Since the Newport Bridge was not built until 1936, "banking" for the ladies required ferry rides across the Alsea and Yaquina Rivers.
The contract for moving the dance hall to the lot was awarded to Mr. Chesley of Toledo, who charged $500 and would have had to also ferry his equipment.
The lot had to be cleared of trees, and 20 pounds of blasting powder was donated to the club to remove the stumps. The ladies and their husbands did much of the clearing of the lot and building of the foundation. Picture doing that in long dresses! The hall was moved to the current location on May 31, 1929.
For many years, the Ladies Club was the only place in Yachats available for community meetings and was much in demand.
On Sundays, the hall was used on alternate weeks by two ministers for church services. The Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion, Odd Fellows Lodge, Rod & Gun Club, Yachats Boosters, Men's Fellowship, the League of Women Voters, and VFW used the hall for their meeting and fundraisers. Many couples wed in front of the old stone fireplace and reunions, wakes and funerals are common uses of the building. The fireplace was built by a member's husband, Mr. Stonefield, in September 1929.
The first library in town was started at the Ladies Club in July 1930 when the ladies received some valuable books. They set up a lending library in the building that was open to the public and maintained until 1955.
From September 1942 to April 1945, the Army rented the clubhouse building for $15 a month and used it for a recreation hall.
The army barracks were between 3rd and 4th streets across from the elementary school where the Lion's Thrift shop and Bread & Roses is now located. Ladies Club meetings were held in the streetcar (located in what is now C&K Market parking lot) the hotel, the Yachats Tavern, and members homes during this time.
The building was set on the current site in 1929. Electricity was not added until 1932, the bathrooms and kitchen were added in 1933, rods and turnbuckles to brace the roof were installed in 1940. The roof was repaired just about every year. In 2006 the roofing needed to be replaced and the club started fundraising to remodel the kitchen.
In July 2007 the contents of the building were put in storage and a major roof replacement project was started. The Ladies Club went Topless. The roofing was removed, the support beams removed and new trusses and roof were installed. This roofing project turned into a major building remodel. The south wall fell in due to dry rot, the flooring was compromised when rains hit the roofless building. A bunch of "while we are at it" projects were started. After many hours of volunteer labor and financial donations from club neighbors, community members, people walking by the building and our members husbands and partners we moved back in the building in August 2008. The next year we replaced the building siding and got a new foundation. We had what looked like a whole new building inside and out. Our thanks go out to Joe West our volunteer coordinator and project head, Dick Springsteen our contractor and many hard working volunteers and Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund for 2 grants that helped pay for the roof trusses and the siding.
For 92 years the club has continued to be a place where women of all ages can come together; a place where information on crafts, gardening, finance, cooking and life in general is exchanged; a place offering emotional support and a good laugh. The members accomplished this by organizing and holding dances, rummage sales, High Tea and fashion shows, craft bazaars, benefit dinners, and pie and ice cream socials.
Besides the place for meeting and having fun the ladies of the club have played an important part in the activities of the community.
In 1929 city streets were dirt-packed wagon roads. The club helped pay for the graveling of the road serving the club.
In 1931 the Home Beautiful Committee planted the triangle created at the intersection of the Roosevelt Highway and Yachats Road with flowers, fenced it and named it Swastika Point.
The Committee also handed out Port Orford Cedar seedlings for planting in yards in February 1932 and in the Spring 1942 they dispensed Calla Lilies and other plants to people to plant.
From 1932 to 1957 the club organized the annual Christmas party for the children in town. Stockings filled with oranges, candies, raisins, and nuts were handed out. Gift baskets for shut-ins were delivered and food was donated for needy families in town.
In 1945 a club member was on the street lighting committee and the club helped get that project started.
In 1951 the club collected $329 that was used to purchase the first ambulance in town, a 1947 Packard that cost $800.
In 1963 they paid for the curbing at the club and donated $100 to the Little Log Church to pay for their curbs.
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