Filed Under Women and Gender

Ladies Literary Clubhouse

The Ladies Literary Club was a vanguard of women’s organizations in Utah. This clubhouse, nicknamed the Grand Dame of South Temple [Street], provided a space where the club could realize its mission: “education for the many.”

Jennie Froiseth, a staunch anti-polygamist living in Salt Lake City, formed an exclusively non-Mormon women’s group called Blue Tea in 1875. Two years later, Eliza K. Royle resigned from Froiseth’s club to pursue a more democratic organization with a constitution that excluded no one. She and a few other former Blue Tea members started the Ladies Literary Club (LLC) with Royle as their first president. After Blue Tea had its last recorded meeting in 1883, LLC absorbed about 20% of Blue Tea’s former members. LLC’s more open membership helped foster tolerance and civic unity, bringing together women of different religious backgrounds, even including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes nicknamed “Mormons”). When the club incorporated in 1882, its membership numbered twenty-eight. By 1897, LLC boasted 110 members.

The Ware and Treganza architectural firm, a leading business in the Intermountain West during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, built the Ladies Literary clubhouse in 1912. Its design resembles the Prairie School style, marked by overhanging eaves, horizontal bands of windows, and ornament craftsmanship. Club members met in this building every Friday morning for two hours to discuss art and history, current events, literature and Shakespeare, music, and entertainment.

Over the years, the local community has utilized this space for various other purposes. During World War II, LLC members set up sewing machines in the auditorium and spent their Wednesdays helping the Red Cross sew hospital clothes for soldiers. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Utah Symphony used the space to rehearse while LLC members sat in on some practices to listen to the music.

The Ladies Literary Club is one of Utah’s most successful and long-lasting culture clubs for women. For over 100 years, the clubhouse provided a place for women with common interests to gather and develop skills for mental self-improvement and community culture. Lois Harris, a member of the Utah Heritage Foundation successfully procured the building a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and in 2013, LLC gifted the clubhouse to the Utah Heritage Foundation (UHF).

In 2016, UHF sold the Clubhouse to Photo Collective Studios (PCS) and secured a preservation easement as part of the deal, ensuring the continuation of the building’s historic character. As of 2017, the Ladies Literary Club continued to meet, albeit with fewer numbers and less frequent meetings. Under PCS’ management, the building has continued to host community events, including musical performances, dance recitals, film screenings, and more.

Images

The Clubhouse
The Clubhouse View of clubhouse from Temple Street in 1913. Clubhouse resembles a Prairie School style, which is usually marked by overhanging eaves, horizontal bands of windows, and ornament craftsmanship. Source:

“Ladies Literary Society Building.” Harry Shipler, August 1913. In Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection (MSS C 275), J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Used with permission of the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s65t3xjt.

Meetingroom
Meetingroom Club members would gather in rooms like this to learn and exchange ideas about culture, literature, art, and more. Source:

“Ladies Literary Club, Interior.” Harry Shipler, December 10, 1904. Shipler #00855 in Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Used with permission of the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6q53126.

Rising generations
Rising generations Throughout its many years, the Ladies Literary Club hosted women of various ages. Source:

“Ladies Literary Club–Shot 2.” Wesler, March 31, 1951. Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Used with permission of the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6vq57gk.

Music and culture
Music and culture Several LLC women gathered to sing for the club’s eightieth anniversary. Source:

“Ladies Literary Club 80th Anniv.: Pearce, Mrs. L. P.; Christensen, Mrs. A. E.; Lee, Mrs. J. Bracken; O'Connor, Mrs. G. D.–Shot 2.” Conrad, February 17, 1957. Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Used with permission of the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6rv35wt.

Location

850 E S Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84102

Metadata

Amy Megowan, Northern Arizona University, “Ladies Literary Clubhouse,” Intermountain Histories, accessed February 24, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/605.