In the Beginning
The Saturday Club was formed to fill a need for women in the community to enrich their own lives outside the home. The club’s official motto “Dare to be Wise” gives a clue to what ladies of the late 1880’s faced when attempting to broaden their horizons. At the time, it was radical for women to meet outside the home or even call their association a club.
Twelve enterprising women, accompanying their husbands to Wayne where the men came to conduct business, first met on Saturday, February 16, 1886 in Wayne Hall (no longer standing) adjacent to the Wayne Presbyterian Church.
So began the history of Pennsylvania’s – and likely the nation’s – oldest women’s club.
Meeting programs usually took the form of papers presented to each other on such topics as literature, science, art, music, and matters of the household. The club’s purpose soon became more oriented toward activism with the addition of the Philanthropic and Legislative sections in 1894.
In 1895, the club’s meetings were changed to Tuesdays when Saturday became a school and business holiday. The name of the club, however, remained unchanged and today, the club continues to hold its monthly membership meetings on Tuesday evenings.
In 1898, club members pooled their resources to purchase the lot and build the clubhouse where it still stands. Designed by architect David Knickerbocker Boyd and modeled after William Shakespeare’s home in England, the Tudor-style building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Over the Years
The Saturday Club has demonstrated its permanence in and commitment to the surrounding community by serving those in need throughout its history. Some highlights from our many accomplishments include:
- As early as 1907, vigorously campaigning for child labor laws and the protection of women from assault
- Founding the first kindergarten in Wayne
- Raising funds for French orphans during World War I
- Converting the Clubhouse into a 60+ bed temporary hospital, when hospitals were overflowing during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
- Starting a theater group called The Footlighters (now in Berwyn, PA)
- Entertaining the troops and establishing the Clubhouse as an emergency Red Cross hospital, and selling over $85,000 worth of War Bonds during World War II
- Preparing seventy volumes of books in Braille for the Royer-Greaves School for the Blind in Paoli during the 1930’s
- Operating the Peter Pan School for Retarded [sic] Children – a nursery school to provide early education for developmentally delayed and disabled children in the 1960’s
In the club’s recent history, there was a great increase in fundraising and philanthropy. The club has published three award-winning cookbooks – Philadelphia Main Line Classics (1982), Main Line Classics II: Cooking Up a Little History(1996), and Main Line Entertains (2005). Learn more about these collectible treasures and how to purchase them in the Cookbook section of our website.
The Saturday Club engaged in many fundraising activities benefitting the community including:
- a popular Arts and Crafts Show and an Antiques Show, both in the 1980’s
- the annual Holiday Market which also began in the 1980’s and is now held on the day of the November membership meeting
- The Saturday Club Cotillion, established in 1991, continues to bring etiquette and manners education to our community youth today
- our popular bi-annual Women and Children’s Consignment Sale began in 2009
From 2003-2010, The Saturday Club hosted the American Girl Fashion Show in the greater Philadelphia region. During its tenure, the club raised more than $750,000 for organizations including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (2010-2011), Dragonfly Forest (2007-2009), Mommy’s Light Lives On (2003-2005), The Children’s Crisis Treatment Center (2006), and The Center for Autism (2006). The American Girl Fashion Show was a grand undertaking each year with more than 1,000 people attending and more than 200 models each year. The Saturday Club played a significant role in developing the structure of the American Girl Fashion Show, including the introduction of the Doll Hair Salon and Guest Model segments, and has provided consultation and expert advice to other organizations across the country.