History of The Fortnightly Club
The Fortnightly Club was founded in 1893 by Mrs. Mary B. Wilcox, the wife of Summit’s 1899 mayor to “bring before its members questions of permanent and current interest thus forming a common meeting ground for women of the community.”
From the beginning, the Fortnightly Club considered service to the community one of its primary goals. The first recorded service was a reception on May 4, 1894 at which guests contributed 132 books to the Public Library, support for which has continued to the present day.
On April 22, 1897, the Fortnightly Club called a town meeting at which the Town Improvement Association was formed, which functioned until 1949. It was responsible for the first garbage collection, snow plowing, mosquito control and milk inspection.
The Social Services Committee financed the first visiting nurse, sponsored playgrounds and opened a store to sell used clothing. In 1934, it became the Thrift Shop now run by the Junior League.
During World War II, members provided contributions and active support to the Red Cross, USO, foreign relief and other charitable services through, in succession, the Emergency Welfare Committee, the Welfare Department and Volunteer Services.
Now, the Community Services Department focuses on support of Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs (NJSFWC) and local educational projects.
Other departments of the Fortnightly Club have led to lasting community organizations – from the Art Department, the Summit Art Association; from the Music Department, the Summit Chorale.
Through General and Department meetings, the Club continues to “bring before its members questions of permanent and current interest”. These meetings are now open to the public.
Town Improvement Association was formed in 1897
- Inaugurate mosquito extermination and control.
- Equip the first snow plows and met the drivers at 6am with huge pots of coffee.
- Instituted the first garbage collection.
- Instated milk inspection.
- Sponsored horse watering troughs.
- Supported general beautification program of the City of Summit.
Social Services Committee
- Financed the first visiting nurse in Summit.
- Sponsored the first playgrounds.
- Opened a small store where used clothing could be purchased by needy families, which The Junior League of Summit took over in 1934; the Thrift Shop still exists today.
Subsequently led to the formation of the Summit Art Association.
Led to the formation of the Summit Choral Society.
Child Study Group
Created the first child study group in the State; later taken over by the Summit Public Schools.
- Supported for decades the Red Cross and Overlook Hospital.
- Supported all efforts in community and for soldiers for WWI and WWII.
- Undertook a diet supply program for invalids and children.
- Co-sponsored a new Adult Education school and a new field of welfare service providing eye glasses for the indigent, crutches for the helpless and dental care for the poor.
Emergency Welfare Department
During the Depression, the Fortnightly Club worked in collaboration with Summit’s relief agencies. A sewing room was set up and volunteers turned out 3,000 garments for needy families, surplus army clothing was sold, they organized an unemployment bureau, made garments for children and soldiers (for both World Wars), and made bandages and dressings in conjunction with Overlook Hospital.
Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Since 1904, annually supports with monetary and book donations.
Area Baby Center (ABC)
Based out of the Fortnightly Club’s Twin Maples home, rent-free, lending support to families in our community in need.
Annually, the Fortnightly Club awards college scholarships to deserving young women who meet the criteria that they are graduating seniors from Summit High School, planning to attend a four year college, and majoring in a professional, business or scientific field. The award is based on academic merit, community service and financial need.
The preservation of Twin Maples historic estate is a major commitment of The Fortnightly Club. Each year, Twin Maples opens its doors to the public as a featured site on Union County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend tour.