Friday, December 15, 2017

History

History of the Community House

The Providence Women’s Club, as was first named, (also later known as the Extension Homemaker’s Club) began informally when the women of this once rural community entered the Mecklenburg County Fair in 1934.  The booths they sponsored, one for the community and one for the club, both won first prizes.  With the proceeds from their prizes, the clubwomen began a building fund, and in the following years sponsored booths in the county fair.  Because club membership was growing quickly, and most homes were too small to accommodate all the participants, the club decided to build a central meeting house.  The funds for building Community House were raised from these fair earnings.

Local men supported the efforts of the club.  Local residents, William Patterson, Zebulon Rea, and James Ardrey, served as trustees of the club and executed the deed.  W. M. and Sarah Ross sold the Providence Women’s Club a small portion of their farm for the building site.  The deed, dated March 1937, set the price for the land at $1.00.  The land was bordered by Ross parcels and the S. E. Kerr and J. G. Earnhart farms.  The conveyance stated that the tract was donated….”for the purpose of authorizing and permitting Mrs. J. A. Blakeney, Mrs. Henry Niven, Mrs. M. P. Hoover, Mrs. Kate Hawfield and Miss Edna E. Ross and their associates, successors and assigns to build and construct upon the above-described lot of land a community club house and perpetually maintain therein a social, charitable, and/or benevolent association for the promotion and up building of the welfare of the persons living in the said community…”  (Deed 26 March 1937).  The land donations came with certain restrictions.  Construction of the clubhouse had to begin on or before January 1, 1938, and the building had to be completed within six months.  Alcohol was prohibited as well as profane language.  Orderly conduct was required within a one mile radius of the clubhouse.  If these conditions were violated, the land was to revert to the original owners.

Other farmers donated logs or actually worked on construction.  One farmer, who was also a carpenter, oversaw construction and performed most of the more skilled carpentry tasks.  By the time construction was complete in 1939, the building was debt-free.  After construction all maintenance was performed by local families.  Electricity was available to Lower Providence by 1937 and the clubhouse has always had electric lighting.

The club originally drew its membership from outside Lower Providence with a high proportion coming from Upper Providence.  Although owned and used primarily by the Providence Women’s Club, the community house has also served wider civic functions.  Public meetings, speakers, films, wartime activities, and Boy Scout’s meetings have been held in the clubhouse.  Maintenance funds for the building were raised through craft and bakery sales.

Originally the clubhouse faced Robinson Store Road, the main road through the Lower Providence community.  The road was paved in 1940, after the clubwomen invited the county commissioners to a dinner at the newly opened community house.  The secondary route which skirted along the clubhouse to the east was later paved and named Community House Road.  With changes in store ownership, the main road was renamed Providence Road West (because this east-west route spans the six miles from Providence Road to the Lancaster Highway.

In 2009 the Lower Providence Community House (as it is now called) celebrated its 70th birthday.  In an area that has lost most of its rural flavor, the little log cabin remains an icon of Lower Providence and the once flourishing farming community it served.

Lower Providence Community House was designated an Historic Landmark by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission on September 5, 1995.

In 2008 the Lower Providence Community House members began a much-needed renovation of the clubhouse.  In efforts of renovation, the club has sponsored local historic house tours, bake sales and historic lecture series.  In 2010 we sponsored “Heritage Day” which included BBQ, bake sale and a variety of vendor booths, hopefully making this a yearly project.

Please join us for our historic lecture series held monthly, March through October.  We would appreciate your participation and your support!