About the Boise Columbian Club
The GFWC Boise Columbian Club has a long and storied history of giving to the Boise community. Though small and working without notoriety, the Boise Columbian Club gives quietly and greatly to honor our ancestors’ ideals from the club’s inception in 1892.
The GFWC Boise Columbian Club was formed in 1892 by Boise’s society women. They were the hostesses for the Idaho Pavilion exhibit during the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, back in 1893. The clubwomen found that by working in together, projects large and small could be accomplished.
Women’s clubs civilized Idaho primarily through books and reading. The Boise Columbian Club had its library room and office in city hall and also wheeled carts through the streets to bring books to Boise’s citizens. It was the fundraising and grant writing persistence of the Columbian Club ladies that garnered first a $15,000 grant, which then became a $20,000 grant, from Andrew Carnegie, to build the first Idaho Carnegie Library. The building still stands and is being renovated by the new business owner. Even now, the Boise Columbian Club focuses on literacy by giving needing children free books to read through the “Read & Wash” project that places books in laundry rooms to targeted disadvantaged apartment complexes.
The Boise Columbian Club was an active early Boise partner; helping during disasters, planting trees and doing what others didn’t realize a need for. Charter members of the Boise Columbian Club include Mary Halleck Foote and Julia Davis.
Starting in 1982, The Boise Columbian Club used the proceeds from the sale of their clubhouse to start a scholarship fund at Boise State University. In the past 37 years, the Boise Columbian Club has funded $76,000 in scholarships.
Continuing in the service to Boise, the Boise Columbian Club in 2001 spearheaded the renovation of the O’Farrell Cabin by organizing work crews to take it apart log by log, then reconstruct it properly. At the Boise Senior Center, our substantial contribution resulted in a room named for the Boise Columbian Club.
In partnership with The Cabin, The Boise Columbian Club hosted the 2014 fundraising dinner event prior to the lecture by Erik Larsen, the author of “The Devil in the White City” the story which is set at the Columbian Exposition of 1893. The dinner was set up as the Columbian Exposition on the stage of the Velma B. Morrison Center for the Arts. It was a magical time since our club founders were hostesses at the Exposition in the “White City” of Chicago.
A permanent show of giving back to the community are the 24 benches along the Boise Greenbelt. All have a plaque next to them “Donated by GFWC Boise Columbian Club.” The club also celebrated on the 50th Anniversary Greenbelt Day.
The Boise Columbian Club hosted a Valentines tea for the women veterans at the Idaho Veterans Home.
Many gifts of money, time and support have been given throughout the many years by the club. In our recent past, the following have benefitted from our generosity: Idaho Botanical Gardens, Idaho Historical Museum, Idaho Veterans, Mary Halleck Foote Memorial Park, Julia Davis Park, Ronald McDonald House, Women’s & Children*s Alliance, Chrysalis House and so many more.
The Boise Columbian Club recently was host club to the Idaho State Convention of the General Federation of Women*s Clubs in April 2019. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs-GFWC- held the Western Regional conference in Boise in September 2019. The GFWC Boise Columbian Club ladies were pivotal in its success.
Although the GFWC Boise Columbian Club was established in the early days of Boise, it is still a viable service club and volunteering to make a better today for the Boise community.