History of the New Port Richey Civic Club

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The Civic club of New Port Richey was organized when New Port Richey consisted of a few scattered homes. There were no hard roads or streets, no sidewalks, no electricity and no running water. At the junction of Main Street and the Boulevard as at other low spots, after every shower, hogs, ducks and hens congregated.

Following are a few of the most important of the many activities of the Civic Club taken from the records which have been kept intact from the day the club was organized.

The minutes of every business meeting show that all business to come before the club was taken care of in an efficient and business-like manner. In reading the minutes of the Civic Club the fact is shown that from the day of its organization, the club played a very important part in the development of New Port Richey.

On August 9, 1916, seven ladies met with Mrs. Fred Rowan to form a club. The officers were: Mrs. Rowan, president; Mrs. Gerben DeVries, vice-president; Mrs. Rollie Draft, treasurer; and Mrs. Parker, secretary. At its first meeting, the club voted to ask permission of the Board of Trade to improve the park.

Within its first year it became interested in and started work on a cemetery, and the town and schools as to their unsanitary condition. After a high and dry piece of land was secured for a cemetery location, groups from the club and town drove out with grub hoes, rakes and shovels and cleared the ground and planted grass. Later a cemetery association was formed. This was backed by and financially assisted by the Civic Club.

During its first few years the club participated in Red Cross work, and it sent exhibits to the fairs at Dade City and Tampa.

It was voted not to take part in politics, but invited speakers to come before the club and present their views.

Except for the flag at the United States post office, the Civic Club brought the first American flags to the city. The club purchased and sold the flags to the stores and business houses.

February 4, 1920 the club purchased a fire bell which it later sold to the Catholic church.

August 10, 1920, Warren Burns asked for help from the Civic Club and the Board of Trade towards installing electric lights. The Civic Club did its part and, from the records of the meetings of the club, had charge of all business connected with the electric installations after being installed. Complaints came to the club, lights were wanted in different sections, and bulbs burned out or broke. All bills came to and were paid by the Civic Club. To start with, there were just four street lights.

George R. Sims asked cooperation and help from the club in laying of some cement sidewalks, the first in the city.

The Civic Club bought and placed pianos in both the local schools.

The Club was formulating a plan and all ready for collecting books which were being loaned around the time when Dr. Elroy McKendree Avery opened the library.

Among those who took active part in the Civic Club during these first years were the Mesdames Rowan, DeVries, Draft, Stulting, Broersma, Sheldon, Sims, Davis, Byington, Moran, Vickers, Cornell, Salisbury, Snell, Casey, Grey, Burns, Conover, Hermanson, Marston, Sass, Frissell, Humphrey, Golder, Thiel, Ravenhall and Meeth.

All through the first years when so much was being accomplished, these club members worked hard in order to earn the money to carry on their work. To earn their money they held ice cream socials, picnics, cafeteria suppers and entertainments, a bazaar every December, and a St. Patrick’s Day dance every March. The townsfolk patronized generously.

The club sponsored clean-up days and work days, when everyone in town who could, turned out and worked. The ladies always provided dinners. Everyone worked hard, and accomplished much and had a good time.

The First State Bank opened October 15, 1921. The ladies of the club served wafers and punch.

The club outgrew the club house and moved to Snell Hall, where they met for four years. On January 23, 1924, George R. Sims presented a proposition to the Civic Club as to taking over the clubhouse in what was then known as Enchantment Park. The club accepted, and then enlarged and repaired and furnished the building, and still hold the clubhouse and meet there.

The Civic Club had charge of services on Memorial Day every year until 1931, when the club by vote, turned the services over to the American Legion and Spanish War Veterans.

The city was incorporated in the fall of 1924. At the Civic club meeting held October 28, 1924, a motion was made and seconded by several that the Civic Club turn over to the city the lights as a gift worthwhile. At its next meeting the club voted to present the city council with a check in the amount of $73.80, enough to cover the cost of lights for three months.

From the time of its organization until a few years ago the Civic Club had a lighted Christmas tree, with candy and fruit gifts, and an Easter egg hunt every year for the school children.

The president of the Civic Club and her committee, by their persistence as to the necessity of a new and better grammar school in New Port Richey, are responsible for the building of the Pierce Grammar School, replacing the old wooden building.

The Civic Club has helped many families and children by giving food, clothing and medical supplies.

The Civic Club is still an active club, meeting the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 12:30. On the second Tuesday a birthday luncheon is held followed by a business meeting at 1:30. On the fourth Tuesday dessert card parties or entertainment. All meetings are held in the clubhouse in Sims Park.

On the honor roll of the club at the present time are 65 members in good standing. The club holds membership in the Audubon Society, The New Port Richey Chamber of Commerce, The Community Health Organization, Interlock Club, The Childrens Home in Jacksonville. Contributes to every worthwhile cause so far as its means will permit.

The Civic club is proud to have sponsored so very many undertakings during the growing years and development of New Port Richey.

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