Utica’s New Century Club

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Frances A. Goodale, Founder and First President of the New Century Club
Frances A. Goodale Portrait - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
late 1800s - 1938

Historical Context

The New Century Club, Utica’s oldest women’s club and the second oldest club in the New York State Federation of Women’s Clubs, was incorporated on December 13, 1893. Its goal was to create a stronger voice for women in civic and community affairs. The club adopted its motto in 1896 "The union of women for accomplishing high and difficult things in the ladder that raises the climber while it makes the heights accessible."

The New Century Club building, located at 253 Genesee Street, Utica, New York was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It was erected in the 1820s by Otis Manchester and purchased from Dr. J.C. Palmer in 1895. Club members sold bonds to raise $16,000 to purchase the mansion that they called home for close to 100 years. A 600-seat auditorium was added in the late 1890s and was the first large auditorium in the city of Utica. The auditorium was used for the club’s activities as well as community activities. Utica Free Academy held graduation ceremonies in the auditorium until 1910 and was the official home of the Children’s Theatre in the 1970s.

The club was frequently busy and hosted lecturers, singers, musicians, dancers, formal balls, and other gatherings up until the 1940s. Susan B. Anthony, Julia Ward Howe, Jane Addams, and Jeanette Rankin are among some of the famous women who spoke at the club. Poet John Cooper Powys, English poet-laureate John Mansfield, and authors Marice Hindus and Hugh Wapole are other notable presenters.

Many local women of note belonged to the club. The club was organized by Francis A. Goodale, the wife of Utica Banker John Goodale, who served as the club’s first president from 1893-1898. Goodale was a community organizer at the local and state level; she was Chairman of State Correspondence for the New York State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Lucy Carlisle Watson, notable local suffrage leader, served as the club’s third president, and Utica Public Library Head Librarian Alice Cynthia Dodge was president of the club from 1978-1984. Dodge led efforts and helped research to support the club’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Scope of Collection

This collection includes a portrait of Lucy Carlisle Watson and a manuscript describing the history of Utica's women's rights movements.