Kalamazoo Is Home To Michigan’s Oldest Woman’s Club
There is a unique red brick building, that sits next to the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, on Park Street, which has an impressive history. It is one of the oldest buildings in Kalamazoo and is the home of the Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo.
In fact, the site is a historical piece of the early days of the women’s movement. The Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo is the first women’s club organized in Michigan, and the third in the United States. Its purpose was to promote the cause of equal education for women.
The Venetian gothic revival style building was built in 1879 and was the first building erected as a women’s club in the United States.
It was Lucinda Hinsdale Stone who headed the effort to organize the ladies library association, which began as a reading group in 1844. The wife of James Andrus Blinn Stone, the first president of Kalamazoo College, which was originally the Kalamazoo Branch of the University of Michigan, she was an early pioneer for the advancement of women’s education.
She taught at the college and eventually headed the Ladies Department. Teaming up with her husband, the Stones shook the world of education by allowing female students to attend classes with male students and giving them access to the same curriculum. She also pressured the University of Michigan to hire female faculty.
Lucinda Stone worked in the women’s suffrage with other activists, such as Susan B. Anthony, and became known as the “Mother of Clubs”. Among the clubs were the Michigan Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Women’s Press Association, and the Twentieth Century Club.
The Stones also played a major part in the creation of the Republican Party. It was at their Kalamazoo home that a group of Whigs, Democrats, and abolitionists met and set the date of an anti-slavery convention in Jackson, Michigan. Out of that convention came the birth of the Republican Party.
Stone died on March 14th, 1900, and was buried alongside her husband at Mountain Home Cemetary, on West Main hill, just across the street from the campus of Kalamazoo College.