Waters' Home, Now Woman's Club, Graces Market Street
Warren Times Observer
The history of the Warren Woman's Club charming white Victorian building, located at 310 Market Street is forever tied to a former lumber, Oilman and seller of a popular "cure-all" formula, Myron Waters.
According to Woman's Club history, Waters bought the land from the borough of Warren in 1865 for less than $2000. Seven years later, he and his second wife, Charlotte built the present-day classic Italianate house, complete with hip roof and three front facade openings on the each level. It was indeed a home worthy of Warren County's third most wealthy resident.
As a young man, Myron Waters was a partner in a large local sawmill/gristmill operation. In 1859, he drilled the second successful well on Oil Creek, following in the footsteps of Col. Edwin Drake, who struck oil just outside Titusville. Waters was a dynamic force of economic innovation and investment and soon became invested in oil transportation, railway ventures, bridge building, manufacturing and the hotel business. In 1887 he founded and presided over Citizens National Bank.
Waters' most famous - and infamous - venture was his investment in the manufacturing and distribution of "Piso's Cure for Consumption." The internationally marketed "remedy" was more than a typical snake oil cure as it was eventually determined to contain alcohol, chloroform, cannabis and opium. It no doubt gave some temporary illusions of providing a cure to various ailments.
The Woman's Club of Warren purchased the house in 1922 from the Waters' estate following Charlotte Waters' death for $21,000.
Charlotte Waters was a member of the club.
Noted architect E. A. Phillips designed the ballroom that was connected to the rear of the original home in 1925. The ballroom floor was constructed with springs under it, which remain today.
Improvements over the years include the installation of a new heating and cooling system throughout the entire building in 2000. A broken water pipe in the winter of 2004 in the butler pantry forced the club to install new carpeting throughout the building. The carpeting was chosen specifically to keep with the building's Victorian atmosphere.
The first floor interior walls and woodwork have been painted in historically sensitive colors.
In 2006, the second floor meeting and music rooms were completely redecorated by volunteers, including the carpeting, painting and handmade floor to ceiling "Old World" floral draperies.
The next year, the club raised $100,000 to install an elevator to the second floor. The club's exterior was given a new coat of white paint and a new roof was placed on the ballroom.
The club's next big projects will be to replace some of the single glazed windows in the kitchen and bathrooms with more energy efficient windows.
OTHER DOCUMENTS ABOUT
THE CLUB'S HISTORY
by Martha Eaton and Mary Grishaver
What has kept it going strong through all these years? Well, it wasn’t so-called “society women”, for nowhere in the records is there such a snobbish allusion. Indeed, the Woman’s Club burst upon the scene with a lively membership of 180, organized in 1913.
Club life was pleasurable from the start. If you wanted to keep up with literature, there were many book reviews. A drama committee regularly produced amusing plays, such as “Her Husband’s Wife.” There were classes in French, German and Spanish. One of the most popular classes was Parliamentary Law, and you had to bring pencils and paper for that one. When the Art Club became a Woman’s Club department in 1915 there were studious, yet captivating programs on painters and sculptors.
Besides the classes there was an Entertainment Committee. Every month it planned a special get-together, perhaps a dance or an Open House or a bridge party. Saturday was named as Club Day, with tea and light refreshments served.
The Club, for nearly ten years, rented the Mansion House across the street from the courthouse on 4th Avenue. Extra income was raised by serving lunch to Warren groups such as the Refiners (oil executives) as well as to club members. Mrs. Olson was our paid cook and kitchen boss. The important House Committee reported that 4,900 were served meals in 1916.
Another important club activity was its Community Service Department. If you had a strong social conscience, this was your dish. An early minute book tells of work on Votes for Women, the need for a Visiting Nurse, food sanitation, covers for garbage wagons, etc. I quote from a 1996 talk by Lynn Bentz:
“Before government agencies were created to work on social welfare issues, before the Bureau of Weights and Measures, before Ralph Nader and before regulation of utilities or protection of the environment, the women in our club looked at, researched, discussed, voted on courses of action, raised money, and then began implementing a wide range of programs. These women were free thinking individuals…”
During World War I, our club helped in many ways, buying Liberty Bonds, supporting French orphans, giving to Belgian relief, and, at home, equipping the men of Company I with 99 pairs of gloves. They also gave support during World War II.
But getting to the choice of a new clubhouse, a construction committee worked with a three-man advisory group after narrowing the choice down to the first three houses south of 4th Avenue on Market Street. With great care, they chose the building we now call The Woman’s Club during 1922.
To raise money toward furnishing the house as well as buying the property, the membership was divided into 10 committees. The goal was $18,000 over a 3-year period. The first year these large committees raised $11,500 in many ingenious ways, including a circus! The following two years, each committee was responsible for raising $850. Very popular were the bake sales, card parties, and picnics. One committee rejoiced at early fund-raising projects amounting to $1,200. Membership rose to 325!
Next came the long desired addition to the back of the building: the much needed Auditorium. Club members again worked hard to raise money, and the construction committee struggled with the problem. They had just arrived at some tentative plans, not wholly satisfactory, when their way was made suddenly clear by the generous offer of Mr. J.P. Jefferson, so often a Warren benefactor, to buy the $4,000 of unsold bonds and $15,000 of a new issue!
Other friends also promised aid, and the club bravely voted to borrow the money and build the Auditorium. By 1924 it became a very welcome place for outstanding speakers, concerts, flower shows, art exhibits, antique shows, many dances and wedding receptions. A budding church rented it for Sunday services. Recently, dinner theaters have succeeded. Of course, The Players Club early on adopted it for all its productions, and audiences loved the plays.
Until the 1990s the Auditorium was quite plain in its décor but members of the Junior Woman’s Club then brought about a delightful change. Their efforts papered the walls of the lobby and back staircase in a rosy Victorian pattern. Each window held curtains of matching fabric. It was a wonderful change. From then on all the parties and events looked festive.
As we entered the new century, we continued to make improvements to our clubhouse. In 2000 we installed air conditioning to make the home and auditorium comfortable year round. In 2005, we turned a plumbing disaster into an opportunity to spruce up the first floor with fresh paint and beautiful new carpet. Our lovely rooms are now ready to be enjoyed by our members and the community we serve.
In 2006 we embarked on a campaign, Miracle on Market Street, to raise money for roof replacement, exterior painting and a lift for access to the second floor. Once again the members responded generously, along with the clubs which use the building regularly, the Warren Shakespeare Club, the Philomel and the Warren Antiques Club. Although we initially launched a $50,000 campaign, we ended up by raising $100,000 so that we could install an enclosed platform lift and redo all three bathrooms to be spacious and handicapped accessible. This work was completed in the summer of 2007. In 2009, the Auditorium was painted, two unnecessary doors were closed off and three exits were replaced with energy efficient, safety coded doors. Other projects and improvements are ongoing and necessary in a building as old as The Woman’s Club.
Woman's Club Manager
Your first line of contact at the Woman's Club is Anne Higgins. Anne is in charge of scheduling events and building upkeep. Anne has been the manager of the Woman's Club since January 2, 2014.
Anne can be contacted at the Woman's club at 814-723-5910. If she is unable to answer the phone there is an answering machine and she will return your call as soon as possible. Also, she can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woman's Club of Warren