This article was published in the Spring 2021 newsletter of the Swift River Valley Historical Society.
The Quabbin Club was founded in 1897 by Marion Andrews Smith and her mother, Loraine Andrews Smith, both of Smith’s Village, Enfield, Mass. The club’s founding was part of the social movement of women’s clubs that took place during the Progressive Era, from the 1890’s to the 1920’s. The club joined the State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1898 and the General Federation in 1926.
The Quabbin Club, like many women’s clubs, began as a social and literary organization that took on community welfare issues such as education, civic engagement and public health, including support for the local Red Cross. According to its constitution, the Quabbin Club’s objective was “the mutual improvement of its members in literature, art, science, and all the important questions of the day.” The club’s flower was a fringed gentian violet and the color was gentian blue.
The club’s meetings took place in the homes of its members, and the club produced an annual booklet that outlined the overarching topic of study for the year along with membership, dates of meetings, issues to be discussed, musical selections to be played, poems and books to be read, and other news of the day. The club’s topics of study centered around a country in the early years (e.g. Holland in 1897-8, America in 1901-2) and eventually included broader topics such as “Art and Miscellaneous Topics,” “European Travel,” and “The American Woman.”
According to Donald Howe, author of Quabbin: The Lost Valley, the Quabbin Club “was the mecca of thousands of club members throughout the state during its forty-one years of activity. Speakers of wide renown were heard at the Enfield gatherings, and the club also maintained a vigilant eye on the town’s civic affairs.” The club sponsored a small plot of land in the center of Enfield that its members would “beautify yearly.” This included a community Christmas tree, which the club would decorate and light at the holiday season.
After 41 years of service, the club’s final meeting took place on April 12, 1938 at The Homestead in Ludlow and was attended by 55 current and former members along with the State Federation President from Boston. Mrs. Edwin Howe, charter member and former president, was in attendance and presented the club’s gavel to Mrs. J. Frederick Zappey, whose mother, Mrs. Martha Thayer, played an active role in the club’s early years. It was determined that the decorations for the community Christmas tree would be donated to Mary Lane Hospital in Ware. And the poem “Quabbin Elegy” by Mrs. Mary Cushman Hardy was read at the final meeting.
The club’s records are now with Swift River Valley Historical Society.