A Landmark of Utah Women’s History is Competing for Grant Money


The Ladies Literary Clubhouse in Salt Lake City (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Hannah Keating, Arts Editor

From the outside, the Clubhouse on South Temple looks unassuming — an old prairie-style building with few distinguishing features, save one Historic Register plaque boasting its significance. Though it may not look like much, the building served as home to Salt Lake City’s own Ladies’ Literary Clubhouse, a hub for women’s education and engagement in the fight for women’s rights. As special as the clubhouse is, it’s not alone as a significant spot for women’s “herstory” in the fabric of American hometowns. 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recognizes just how important maintaining these roots of female impact are, especially as America approaches the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. So this year, the annual focus of their Partners in Preservation program is on women’s historical sites, including local YWCAs, birth homes of famous figures, community cultural centers, dedicated museums and even sculpture gardens. Through their Vote Your Main Street competition, 20 of these landmarks vie for a portion of $2 million in grant money from partners National Geographic and American Express, and our Ladies’ Literary Clubhouse is in the running. 

The Clubhouse isn’t the first Utah site to be a part of the work of Partners in Preservation. In previous years, they have focused on topics such as equality or national parks, and Salt Lake’s Advance the Arts won grant money through their 2017 Vote Your Main Street event. On the whole, the competition serves to not only raise awareness for historic preservation, but to rejuvenate the brightest lights on America’s main streets. Shining a light on underrepresented figures in feminist history, like the Ladies’ Literary Clubhouse, is especially important now.   

When the Ladies’ Literary Clubhouse of Utah was founded in 1877, it was already making history. The organization was the first of its kind west of the Mississippi. When the building was adopted in 1913, the society acted as a hub of opportunity for women, giving them an open space to meet with one another and dive into literature, art, science and social justice. The Clubhouse provided a space for a force of devoted women during the fight for their rights.

The old building is now run as a private venue under the name Clubhouse SLC as an homage, but it is still registered as a Utah historic site due to its impact. Their hope with the Vote Your Main Street competition is to restore their sinking porch and construct an ADA wheelchair ramp and service lift to, for the first time, provide accessibility to all of their patrons — but the clubhouse is going head-to-head with landmarks from Washington to Georgia, and they need votes. 

Participants can vote up to five times a day between the 20 sites until Oct. 29. Winners will be announced on Oct. 30. Those with the most votes will receive a share of the $2 million, and all local partners will receive a $10,000 grant to continue to raise awareness. There is also a sweepstakes portion of the competition geared towards the voters. To vote for the Ladies’ Literary Clubhouse, click here.


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