La Jolla Woman’s Club’s past paved the way for its present. Scripps Institution director Margaret Leinen to speak at the club, March 29

Editor’s Note: The venerable La Jolla Woman’s Club is seeking new members and new programs to offer the community.

• Its successful Women in Leadership lecture series continues this month with a presentation by Dr. Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, 2018 at the historic club house, 7791 Draper Ave. The event is free with RSVP at (858) 454-2354.

• Club membership requires attendance at two events and payment of yearly dues ($75). Membership chair is Debbie Williams at (858) 454-2354.


In 1894, a small group of women in La Jolla met to talk about current affairs and literature. Speakers such as Helen Keller and Lucy Stone were invited to address a variety of topics, including women’s suffrage and the lack of female representation in the American political system.

In 1901, Ellen Browning Scripps became president of the club and the name became La Jolla Woman’s Club.

The club evolved into a large prominent group and was very influential in local and national politics. Legislation for child welfare was heavily influenced by members of the club, along with a California bill to protect the redwoods and national forests, and the insistence that women be appointed to the Board of Education.

Special programs for children with disabilities in public schools was another interest of club members. In 1914, club president Dr. Mary Ritter (also state chair of Public Health of California) adopted the slogan: “All knowledge is futile that is not used for others,” and the club embarked upon an ambitious program of events and fundraising.

The club endorsed a resolution to the 65th U.S. Congress recommending, as War Measure Legislation, the early passing of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (women’s right to vote), and investigated subjects such as the value of a scientific education.

During both world wars, the club raised money and gave time to the Red Cross and its efforts overseas.

Following World War II, the status of women was forever changed. Previously closed doors opened. Women were welcomed into the Chambers of Commerce, all levels of government and politics, civic organizations and corporate boards.

The La Jolla Woman’s Club gradually evolved into a more social organization, where members met and enjoyed monthly luncheons, yoga sessions and a book club. While the club still hosts meetings, it has re-focused its attention to spearheading the role and status of women in all arenas — work, society and home.

About the building:

Ellen Browning Scripps commissioned Irving Gill, preeminent architect of the Modernist era, to design and build La Jolla Woman’s Club, and it was finished in 1914. Gill used many new materials and methods to construct a space that simultaneously evokes tranquility and purpose.

It was designated as Historic Site No. 79 on the City of San Diego Register, March 2, 1973 and on the National Register of Historical Places, Nov. 5, 1974. The Historic American Building Survey measured it in 1971, and its drawings are filed in the Library of Congress. In 2017, the San Diego Association of Architects gave it their top award.

Boards and committees:

Currently there are two boards: La Jolla Woman’s Club Foundation, a 501(3)(c), and the Board of Directors. The latter has six officers — president, first vice-president, second vice-president, recording secretary, corresponding secretary and treasurer — and six directors who serve as chairs of these committees: communications, history, hospitality, house, rentals and reservations.

Available to rent:

The La Jolla Woman’s Club is an events venue, with manager Auriel O’Neill organizing the space for weddings, fundraisers, galas and corporate meetings. Working with facilities manager Mario Hernandez, she transforms an already beautiful venue — with open space, iconic views and historic charm — into an even more magical, breathtaking space.

La Jolla Woman’s Club, 7791 Draper Ave., La Jolla. (858) 454-2354.