This weekend I took a stroll through the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale in search of what many consider to be one of the most important buildings in all of Fort Lauderdale. The Woman's Club. Located at 20 South Andrews Ave in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the building is located in Stranahan Park, named in honor of the founder of the Woman's Club.
Ivy Stranahan, who is widely regarded as the "Mother of Fort Lauderdale", founded the club in 1911 as the "Woman's Civic Improvement Association". The purpose of the building was to empower women in the small town of Fort Lauderdale and create a place where women and children of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicity could come to educate themselves and help build the city of Fort Lauderdale. For example, the Woman's Club is responsible for the creation of the first volunteer fire department in Fort Lauderdale as well as publishing the first newspapers intended for vacationers in the area.
Although founded in 1911, the club did not have a home until 1916 when Ivy Stranahan and her husband Frank, who owned the local Post Office and trading post, donated the land to the Woman's Club. The club was a safe place for all to visit. Ivy always had a place in her heart for children and felt that education was very important to build successful communities. With this in mind, Ivy and the Woman's Club created the Broward County Public Library System in 1925. The library system would provide the community with the means to educate themselves and give children the opportunity to grow and explore the unknown. The club also started ab Education Loan Fund which would allow students to borrow money for their educations. The fund was later turned into scholarships which would not have to paid back by the student.
Next time you're in the downtown Fort Lauderdale area, I highly suggest visiting the Woman's Club as it's full of interesting things and is surrounded by a beautiful butterfly garden. The garden is full of lush tropical plans and even includes a large pond with wildlife. It's one of the hidden gems of the downtown Fort Lauderdale area.