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Improvement Association for the Village of Stamford
Information from the minutes book with entries from 1906-1932, photos and an article from the Stamford Mirror, housed at the Stamford Village Library.
On September 19, 1906 twenty-eight ladies met with Miss Canfield for the purpose of forming an Improvement Association. (There are a few pages missing in the front of the minutes book and in the 1931 minutes it is stated that the organization was 24 years old, so they may have truly begun in 1903). Mrs. J.P. Grant was chosen chairman and Mrs. W. M. Beckley secretary. The first slate of officers elected at the next meeting was: President Mrs. J.P. Grant, 1st Vice President Miss Canfield, 2nd Vice-President Miss Sara Churchill, Corresponding Secretary Mrs. W.H. McAlpine and Recording Secretary Mrs. W.M. Beckley. Then a board of directors, entertainment committee and library committee were appointed. A few months’ later committees were appointed to look at the matter of street signs and the matter of seats to be placed around town. In early 1907 they became the Women’s Village Improvement Association (W.V.I.A.)
In 1907 they decided to form and maintain a library in Ransom Gibbs office. Cost to rent the building for a year was $75. It was voted to expend $100 at once for books. Each member was requested to furnish two articles, a chair and pictures or magazines for the library room. Residents could use the library for $1 per year, members .50 per year and summer guest .50 per month plus a $1 deposit that was refundable at the end of the season. Anyone keeping a book over two weeks shall pay .2cts. per day. Members also donated books.
The ladies promoted and or carried out the following improvements to the town: placing and maintaining street signs, cans for waste paper to be distributed about the town (they were often moving or painting the cans), seats/benches were placed around the village and painted green with W.V.I.A. in black lettering (they had 26 benches by 1932 and distributed them around the village every summer), a fire alarm system, village clock, improved sanitary conditions, drinking fountains, improving the grounds at the RR station, clean cross walks, remove old barn owned by Mrs. Young, purchased dishes for the Firemen’s rooms, deal with unsightly billboards, home owners to keep their walks in proper condition, plants for the post office grounds, monies given to the Indian Trail Park to be used for tennis grounds/lawn tennis and redecorating the Opera House.
Some of their fundraisers were: a supper held at the Grant House, summer fair at the Opera House, social evening at the Westholm made $22.50, entertainment at the Hamilton House made $23.50, made and sold aprons and rag rugs, Oyster Supper at the Ivanhurst, Tea & Bake Sales, New Years entertainment, St. Patricks Entertainment and card parties. The Fair committee in 1909 appointed chairmen to head up tables for: aprons, pine needle pillows, kimonos, handkerchiefs & bags, candy, miscellaneous, pictures, children’s table and ice cream & cake. The ladies made the items that they sold at the tables. The $207 profit from the fair was given to their library.
The officers in 1932 were: President Mrs. Grace Hanford, Vice-President Mrs. Ella Fink, Treasurer Mrs. Josephine Chambers and Secretary Miss Ida L. Johnson.
An April 17, 1930 article in the Stamford Mirror( and the April 21 minutes) stated that the WVIA voted to merge with the Stamford Chamber of Commerce and be known as the Women’s Auxiliary of the Chamber of Commerce (also referred to as WVIA Auxiliary of the Chamber) . The death, a few years ago, of the organizations president, Mrs. Henry Cook, was a severe blow to the WVIA. The treasurer Mrs. F.A. McCracken compiled the following expenditures through 1930 (I rounded off the totals). Village Library Association $1,600, street waste cans $25, flowers and tubs for PO $6, iron benches and painting/repairs $280, silver ware $103, Chinaware $15, Country Club $50, Red Cross $30, Liberty Loan $50, advertising for village $100, enamel signs and angle posts $85 and Indian Trail Park tennis court $200.
The new organization touted just over 100 members a month following its creation.
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