Since 1952, the Fallbrook Woman’s Club House has been in the historic A.J. Clark Residence. This building has been here on the same spot since it was built by Fallbrook’s first banker Almond Jack (A.J.) Clark in 1887. A.J. Clark and his wife Belle, selected this choice lot for their home soon after the town of West Fallbrook was surveyed in 1885 (map1).
Between the years when the Club was founded, and when it obtained the A.J. Clark residence, the Woman’s Club has been headquartered in different buildings around town. The buildings have changed ownership and occasionally physical moved up from one place to another, confusing the trail.
Old Masonic Hall. The Fallbrook Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Club was founded in May 1907. Within a few months the Saturday Afternoon Club arranged to rent space upstairs in the Masonic Hall on Main Ave, one of the oldest intact buildings in Fallbrook today. The map here refers to this building as the “old Masonic Hall”. Built in 1887 as a restaurant downstairs with a family residence upstairs, the Masons bought the building in 1894.
Contrary to their name, the Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse was open on more than just Saturday afternoons. In 1911, the Club was started a free reading room that was open on Tuesday evenings for anyone who wanted to relax in their clubhouse to read donated books and magazines. This was the beginning of the Club’s interest in starting a public library, which came to fruition in May 1913. The Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Club frequently arranged to hold receptions and public events on other days as well. There was always something scheduled at the Woman’s Clubhouse. On Thursday evening, March 20, 1913, the Club hosted a banquet at the Masonic Hall for the Fallbrook Commercial Club, the forerunner to the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce. A popular event at the Clubhouse was the monthly Saturday evening strawberry and ice cream fundraiser.
Crane Hall. The Fallbrook Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Club often put on plays and concerts. For these events, they needed more space and they turned to the nearby Crane Hall. There are conflicting reports regarding the exact location for Crane Hall. Bob White a longtime editor of the Fallbrook Enterprise in the 1950s & 60s, stated that Crane Hall was south of Elder St. Other accounts put Crane Hall a block or two north around Fig St. The precise location has not been determined.
The Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Club purchased Crane Hall in May 1915 and immediately moved their headquarters to the larger building. This would be the Woman’s Clubhouse for the next 25 years. Knowing that the coming railroad would require the whole building to be moved, the Woman’s Club began buying town lots north of Vine Street. In November 1916, a few months before the railroad tracks were laid, Crane Hall was moved to the Woman’s Club block on N. Main Ave between Ivy St. and Juniper (now called Mission Rd.). For many years, from 1919 until 1936, they showed weekly movies in this building in addition to their many regular activities of that included monthly dances. The Woman’s Club gradually bought up the lots around the clubhouse, planting the property with trees. Their stated intention was to develop a park around the clubhouse that the whole community could enjoy.
However, circumstances changed over the years. Fallbrook never incorporated, and a city never formed to take charge of the park they were designing. Expenses for the properties were a financial burden. A growing military buildup on the new Marine Corps base and the construction of the Ammunition Depot caused a severe housing shortage in the area. The Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Club was persuaded to sell Crane Hall in 1940. It was then remodeled to be a hotel for workers on the Ammunition Depot and renamed the Palms Hotel. About the same time, the Club also accepted generous terms to sell two of their lots to Safeway at the corner of Ivy and Main.
Model Home. With the loss of their Clubhouse, the Woman’s Club began meeting in members’ homes or in the nearby high school facilities on Ivy St. The Home Economic Department Model Home became the usual meeting place for the next 10 years. During WWII many of the Women were Red Cross volunteers and the clubhouse was turned over to Red Cross activities, as they had done during WWI.
2nd Masonic Lodge. The old Masonic Hall was becoming obsolescent. In 1948, the Masons bought a surplus barracks from the Ammunition Depot and moved it to property they bought at the corner of Hill St and Kalmia. The Woman’s Club began to rent meeting space at this newest Masonic lodge, until they could have their own building again.
A.J. Clark Home. This is the modern Woman’s Clubhouse since 1952. Fallbrook’s first banker, A.J. Clark and his wife Belle, hadbuilt this home on the corner of Juniper and Hill (now Mission) in 1887. After the Clarks passed, Frank and Ella Fallis bought the home and lived here for the remainder of their lives. In January 1952, the Woman’s Club bought the Fallis estate which included the large house plus 11 lots. This has been the Woman’s Clubhouse for the past 60 years.
) Fallbrook Enterprise, August 31, 1917, The Woman’s Saturday Afternoon Club.
) Fallbrook Historic Resources Inventory prepared September 1991 for the County of San Diego, by Susan Carrico
& Kathleen Flanigan.
)Fallbrook Enterprise, April 7, 1911.
)Fallbrook Enterprise, March 7, 1913.