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MIDWAY CITY : Club With a Moving Past to Reopen

January 09, 1990|GREG HERNANDEZ

Local legend has it that John Harper, a prominent developer in the city during the 1920s, got tired of having a group of noisy ladies over to his house each month when his wife hosted meetings for the Midway City Women's Club.

So, he did what any man of his financial stature would do: He built the women their own building at the corner of Bolsa Avenue and Monroe Street.

The 3,200-square-foot building cost $4,000 to construct.

But 60 years of wedding receptions, parties and church meetings took its toll on the city landmark, and last year it was moved to Leora L. Blakey Park in the 8600 block of Westminster Boulevard. And now, after more than a year of remodeling and renovation, the Midway City Women's Club is expected to reopen later this month.

Club President Martha Kinsley said the new location is a safer and more suitable site for the group. At the old location, the building was often the target of vandalism and had inadequate parking facilities, she said.

"It's a very well-built building, and I just know it's going to stand for another 60 years," Kinsley said.

Throughout the years, the club's facility has been a popular gathering place. It even served as a temporary sanctuary for at least 10 churches. In World War II, the building was used as a servicemen's center for the armed forces, a place where soldiers could get a meal or rest.

Through it all, the building has remained, first and foremost, home to the women's club, which meets the second Tuesday of each month.

The group's headquarters is one of four historical buildings at Blakey Park and will eventually house the city's museum, said Councilwoman Joy Neugebauer, a member of the Historical Society's board of directors. Neugebauer supervised the relocation of the building and its renovation and contends that the project signals a "major step" toward the completion of the historical park.

The building cost $50,000 to move and $5,000 to restore, Neugebauer said. The bulk of the cost was paid for by the women's club, which owned and sold the site where the building formerly stood.

"The value of the land where it was had risen so much and many businesses were interested in buying it," Neugebauer said.

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