Header Graphic
Pioneers Right Downtown


This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on October 16, 1966
Pioneers Right Downtown?
Sure—‘Way Back When’
By Kay Black
     Back in 1895, 10 women had a vision of community service.  But not a dime of capital.  That didn’t stop them.  They just held a meeting and set about systematically making their dream a reality that’s continued for years.
     That’s how the Young Women’s League happens to be observing its 65th anniversary.  The month – long membership drive ends with a dinner at 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at the W. Fourth St. headquarters.
     THE FOUNDERS wanted to promote “the best interests of all working women.”
     Right off, they pioneered in night school for girls. “Twas the days before industrial cafeterias, too.  So by 1896 the league had a branch near some factories.  There they served hot lunches to women employed in the neighborhood.  The check? Just 10 cents.
     The first rented quarters on Jefferson St. were quickly outgrown and in 1898 the organization acquired a charter and was ready to buy at its current location.
     At one time, during those early days, this handful of energetic women, through the generosity of the publisher, the late Gov. James M. Cox, even edited The Daily News for a day, with proceeds going toward their civic projects.
     One of the goals of the women’s center is the heart of the downtown area was to provide a place of rest and recreation in a homelike atmosphere, for business women and shoppers.
     Like to know how times have changed since then?
     The league’s clipping – filled scrapbooks reveal that in 1910 you could have dinner for a quarter.  Soup, roast pork and dressing, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, choice of dessert, wheat or graham bread and butter, coffee, tea or milk.
     In 1913; Fourth of a fried chicken, 20 cents.  Roast beef or lamb, 7 cents.  Desserts, 3 to 5 cents.
     During World War I and after, women with $9 to $12 a week paychecks could find reasonable lodging at the league operated lodge on W. First St.  Room and two meals a day: $3.50.
     The year 1920 saw the league operating a vacation camp, Briarcliff on the Stillwater.  There, according to records, “During the past summer 351 girls enjoyed the delights of wood and stream…At very low rates they had a taste of outdoor life…”
     A 1930 PAMPHLET recorded, “The Lafayette Street Home, inaugurated under the League, as a help to the city police women, is now a part of the Department of Public Welfare.  Three members of the league now serve on the board with the police women.”
     Mrs. Charles H. Kumler was president form 1895 to 1905.  Katharine Wright (Mrs. Henry Haskell), sister of Wilbur and Orville Wright, was president from 1913 to 1916; Grace A. Greene, 1903-1913, and Mrs. Scott Pierce, 1916-17.  All are deceased.
     Susannah Beckel Huffman of Ridgeway Rd. headed the league in 1920.
     CURRECT OFFICERS are Mrs. George F. Wendel, president; Mrs. Horace Lotz, vice president; Della Scholey, secretary, and Mrs. S. Elmer Lucas, treasurer.
     Today, the league, which is self-sustaining, operates a dining room and its rooms are used as a meeting place by a number of organizations.  Among its activities are the Fourth Saturday club for senior citizens, dinners and card parties.