On Friday afternoon March 25, 1904, a group of women met to form Santa Clara Woman’s club. Since then, the club has meet continuously and has achieved an impressive record of contribution to the community, including a nursing scholarship fund and donations to groups as varied as the Senior Center, Bill Wilson Center, JW House, and Loaves and Fishes.
Since 1913, the club has met at the Adobe on 3260 The Alameda. The building is a 1790 structure; dating back to the time of the third Mission Santa Clara church, dedicated in 1784 by Father Junipero Serra. It’s possibly the oldest surviving adobe in Northern California – San Jose’s Peralta Adobe was built in 1797, the Berryessa Adobe in the 1840s, and the current Mission Church in 1926.
After the missions were secularized in the 1830s, the house and 100 ‘varas’ – about 100 square yards – of land were granted to Don Jose Pena. Following Pena’s death in 1852, his widow Gertrudis and daughter-in-law Concepcion began selling the land surrounding the adobe.
The property eventually passed to Conception’s brother-in-law, Thomas Brother, who “loved the old adobe building and kept it in good condition,” according to the late historian and long-time Santa Clara resident Bea Lichtenstein. The adobe’s construction was so solid that Lichtenstein said it was one of very few structures in the City to survive the 1906 earthquake completely intact.
After Brother’s death, the Woman’s Club purchased the building and the surrounding 60 by 147 foot lot in 1913 for $350.
From 2003 to 2004, much of the organization’s time and effort, supported by a city grant, was dedicated to renovating the historic structure, which had been damaged by water. Â That year longtime club member Angie Souza volunteered her time to renovate the garden, which had grown shabby over the years. The ongoing expense to maintain and insure the building is entirely born by the club.
The Santa Clara Woman’s Club’s monthly lunch is held the first Friday of every month at the Adobe on 3260 The Alameda. Visitors are always welcome, but lunch reservations are required. The club’s next fundraiser is its annual Fashion Show, slated this year on April 16. The Adobe can be rented for private events. For information, call (408) 246-8000 or visit www.santaclarawomansclub.org.