Founded in 1894, the Woman’s Club is a “non-profit organization committed to providing an educational and cultural center for its members, preserving the integrity of its historic clubhouse, improving conditions and opportunities for women, and enhancing the quality of life in our community.” During the late nineteenth century the Woman’s Club, originally known as the Current Topics Club, was the only woman’s organization in El Paso. The group’s members were instrumental in establishing the first public school kindergarten in Texas as well as supporting pure food laws, city sanitation and beautification efforts, historic preservation of the San Jacinto Plaza, and many cultural events in El Paso.
As membership increased during the early twentieth century, members planned for a Woman’s Club building that would function as a permanent meeting space and as a venue for the El Paso community. In 1910 Woman’s Club members appropriated $375 into a Club House Fund. Members, friends, and local businesses also donated to the Fund and lots were purchased at Mesa and River Streets in 1915. The clubhouse, located at 1400 North Mesa Street, was completed in 1916. This made the Woman’s Club of El Paso the first woman’s group in Texas to own a club building. The clubhouse was designed by architect Otto H. Thorman and built by H.G. Ponsford. In addition to serving as a space for women’s leadership in El Paso for one hundred years, the clubhouse remains an important center for civic, educational, and cultural activities in the border region. The Woman’s Club building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1980.
Besides organizing art exhibitions and other educational and cultural programs, the Woman’s Club and its auxiliaries raise money to benefit the El Paso community by sponsoring various activities, such as the annual civic benefit, the Sun Carnival, and the Spooktacular Children’s Carnival. In 1976 the Woman’s Club arranged for Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music Makers to perform at a fundraiser in El Paso. The Lawrence Welk concert, held on March 4, 1977, was the first event at the University of Texas at El Paso’s newly constructed Special Events Center, now known as the Don Haskins Center. Net proceeds from the concert resulted in the Woman’s Club’s largest donation in its history: $35,047.15 to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The Woman’s Club also awards scholarships to local students and supports other El Paso organizations.