“The Grand Old Lady” continues women’s history in Eagle Rock

Front of the Women’s 20th Century Club constructed in 1914 in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 14, 2022. Olivia Correia/The Occidental

Since its founding in 1903, the Women’s Twentieth Century Club (WTCC) has been active in Eagle Rock. According to the Online Archive of California, the WTCC was started by a small group of women in Eagle Rock with goals of self-improvement and public service. After years of raising money to buy land, their clubhouse was constructed in 1914, the archive said.

With 120 years of service being celebrated next year, Ela Vallejo, who has been the WTCC president for three terms, has tried to continue the work of her predecessors.

“It’s been a big staple in the community,” Vallejo said. “A lot has gone on here. Back in the day, there were Red Cross events here, and the ladies that built the club were big on the suffrage movement. They wanted to help the community and people around Eagle Rock. We are continuing that work.”

Patio sitting area overlooking Colorado Boulevard at Women’s 20th Century Club in Los Angeles, CA. Oct.14, 2022. Olivia Correia/The Occidental

WTCC was started so that women could promote social welfare and literacy within the community, according to the archive. The archive said that in 1910, a group of women traveled to Long Beach and signed a petition directed at the California Legislature fighting for women’s right to vote.

“We tell our granddaughters, these women did this back [in the] early 1900s, when it was difficult for women to do anything. And we’ve got to continue this,” Vallejo said. “We cannot just stop now. We have to live their legacy and pretty much that is what we are doing.”

The club’s influence on the Eagle Rock community has been significant since the start, House and Grounds Chairwoman Linda Farrell said. In 1922, after Occidental College moved to Eagle Rock, the Women’s Club petitioned for the college to include women, according to the archive.

Vallejo said while WTCC has always strived for progress and equality, it has not been historically inclusive, as the club was only for white women when it was founded. But now, Vallejo said she is the first Hispanic president of WTCC.

“When I came to the board, there was only one other Hispanic lady beside me,” Vallejo said. “Now, there are five out of 13 women on the board who are Hispanic.”

The traditional Craftsman-style clubhouse, nicknamed “The Grand Old Lady,” is on the National Register of Historic Places. Vallejo said WTCC set up a preservation committee last year dedicated to maintaining the building.

“There is a list of everything that needs to be done to the clubhouse from highest priority to the lowest,” Vallejo said. “We are taking care of every little thing we can.”

Linda Ferral, vice president of the Women’s Club, points to plaque from Los Angeles County designating club building as historic place in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 14, 2022. Olivia Correia/The Occidental

According to Vallejo, WTCC is part of a Federation in Eagle Rock, requiring the Women’s Club building to open its doors to local groups and organizations. This has fostered a connection between WTCC and the Eagle Rock community, Vallejo said.

“We want to get involved with other organizations because their goals are the same as ours, that is to bring the community in,” Vallejo said.

Linda Farrell is the vice president of WTCC and helps organize community events, she said.

“There was drag queen bingo here last fall,” Farrell said. “We had so much fun. The Uptown Gay and Lesbian Association came and hosted it. We come to their fundraisers and they go to ours. They are great.”

Back garden and patio area constructed in 1914 at Women’s 20th Century Club in Los Angeles, CA. Oct.14, 2022. Olivia Correia/The Occidental

As an annual tradition during the holiday season, WTCC partners with local schools Vallejo said. According to Vallejo, a family from each school in Eagle Rock is chosen and lists what they need help buying, and WTCC provides their requests.

Another organization that the women’s club is involved with is Free The Girls. According to Farrell, this organization collects gently used bras to clean and send to countries where women are targets of domestic violence and human trafficking.

“They have a box where people can go and just drop them,” Vallejo said. “The first time we did it, we had collected so much that we filled up the box.”

WTCC is also dedicated to creating an inclusive community for everyone, Vallejo said.

“We do not close the doors, anybody is welcomed,” Vallejo said.

The Women’s Club hosts community events every week. Their schedule can be found at www.womenstwentiethcenturyclub.com.

Contact Olivia Correia at ocorreia@oxy.edu