Chilhowee Club celebrates 119 years in Blount

When the Chilhowee Club members gather for their Sept. 14 meeting, it will be the 119th year of continuous meetings held by these community-spirited women.

The club, founded in 1891 by 6 women affiliated with Maryville College, is the second oldest Tennessee Federated Women’s Club (TFWC). Della Gowan, who was recently installed as president of TFWC, is a member of Chilhowee Club where her roots of community service were cultivated.

According to a press release, during the decades that followed its inception, Chilhowee Club continued to grow in numbers to more than 100 members. After merging with the Tuesday Club in 1939, members saw the vision and necessity of having their own clubhouse.

Susan Walker, a club member and builder of her residence, Morningside, in the College Woods, provided three lots on the corners of Cates and Clarion Streets, as well as artwork and furnishings for the clubhouse’s interior.

The clubhouse was completed in February 1940, and continues as Chilhowee’s meeting place today, and is an architectural gem in Maryville’s historic district.

As a community service-oriented club, Chilhowee Club continues to build on its history by serving others through their affiliation with larger umbrella organizations, General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) and Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs (TFWC). Chilhowee Club is the only General Federated Women’s Club in Blount County.

Club members say these organizations have been at the front lines of women’s issues and grassroots community services. They have actively shaped the laws and volunteered the services that have improved the quality of our lives.

From the early history of the club, the areas of service and focus have been guided by the GFWC. They suggest six community service areas where the club can best serve the community’s needs: Arts, Conservation, Education, Home Life, International Outreach and Public Issues.

Contributions of service and funds include support to Maryville Intermediate School Comprehensive Development Classes for workbooks, student field trips, Springtime baskets for students; hosting poetry contests to encourage our poets, co-sponsoring the annual Spelling Bee; funding Imagination Library, Community Food Connection, United Way and Heifer International. The Trinity Dental Clinic has been the beneficiary for the past three years at Chilhowee Club’s Spring Blossom events, with total contributions of approximately $8000. The total contributions for various Blount County non-profit agencies in 2009 was $4,555.

Chilhowee is opening its membership to women interested in community service and who may enjoy such activities as ESO book review, investment group, quilting circle, dinner and theatre outings and game days.

The first meeting of our new club year will be 1:30 p.m. Sept. 14, at the Clubhouse, 223 Clarion Street.

For more information, call 865-982-5930 or 865-518-1700.

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