A little house on Cedar Mesa has been awarded recognition with a place on the Colorado State Register of Historic Places.
The simple frame structure on Peach Road has served as home of the Cedar Mesa Community Club since 1949. The club and its historic meeting place were featured in the September 2016 edition of Colorado Heritage, a publication of the History Colorado, the state historical society:
"Following organization of a national women's club movement, the Cedar Mesa Community Club organized in 1908 with fewer than ten members. After many years of holding meetings in the homes of its members -- and as membership grew -- the club raised enough money to build a clubhouse in 1949. Since then, club members have used the clubhouse continuously for annual social, educational, charitable, fundraising, and community events. It is significant for its role in the local social activities of this relatively isolated agricultural community."
A lengthy narrative encompassing much detailed historical research about the club, prepared by club president Kathy Bradbury, was submitted to History Colorado and provides documented information about the Cedar Mesa Clubhouse and the people and activities it has housed.
"The clubhouse is a boxy, compact building, a 25-foot by 36-foot structure, with a cinder block and stucco exterior and a plaster interior.
"The building constructed in 1949 was constructed to be used as a meeting house for the Cedar Mesa Community Club. The women's club began meeting in the homes of its members in 1908 and raised money to build the clubhouse as their membership grew. Members have used the clubhouse continuously since it was built," for their meetings and activities.
"The Cedar Mesa Community Club meeting house is a gathering place for the women's club organized [in 1908].
"In 1944, members and their families started raising money for the clubhouse construction and, by 1949, there was enough money to begin building. Husbands of club members formed a building committee and scheduled work days.
"On Aug. 18, 1949 before the windows and doors were installed, members held their first meeting in the new clubhouse. In November of that year, 60 members and their families attended a harvest dinner, and by 1951, members had raised enough money to finish the floors and walls
"As part of a club tradition, members contribute their time and energy twice a year to keep the community clubhouse and grounds up to date. They attend member work days and clear the acreage of brush and weeds, repair the building and clean the clubhouse. The workday is followed by a group barbecue, a tradition that has been in place for the past 65 years."
Members of the Cedar Mesa Community Club are proud of their history that is traced to the early 20th century.
"During the early 20th century, women nationwide formed clubs to support common interests in the communities in which they lived."
In 1873, "The first women's congress met in New York City. Four-hundred women met for three days organizing and forming committees on higher education, house and home, sanitation, literature, art and drama."
In 1889, representatives met again in a national convention for "formation of state federations of women's clubs."
The book, "Homesteading Women: An Oral History of Colorado, 1890-1950" includes interviews with true pioneer women who lived in northwest Colorado and particularly the counties of Rio Blanco and Moffat. "The rural environment of the women who lived on Cedar Mesa was similar to that of the women from the rural areas of Rangely, Meeker, and Craig."
The Cedar Mesa Community Club celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2008.
The club's mission statement from August, 2014, reads: "We are a small, not-for-profit women's club serving rural Western Colorado since 1908 with a commitment to enrich lives through community outreach."
Club members are looking to the future with hope that the historic register listing will bring new life to their meeting house and open the door to grant funding for making some important improvements and upgrades.
Through the years many repairs and improvements have been made to the building including a metal roof in 1990, foundation footers that have been installed, hardwood flooring, joists in 2002, electrical upgrades, and interior improvements. Through it all, the club members' meeting room and banquet hall has always been heated by a reliable wood-burning stove. The original wood burner, an Army surplus "U.S. laundry No. 14" can be seen on display at Pioneer Town in the Forest Service Cabin.
But far more than any unique architectural features of the historic clubhouse has been the never failing, ambitious energy the club's members have contributed to their community service activities over the years. A listing on the State Historic Register is a noteworthy accomplishment, but it in no way outshines the service and commitment to community that the little house on Cedar Mesa has seen.
A list of the fundraising events hosted by the club members dating back only to 2006 shows numerous examples of the club members' dedication. There have been regular country dinners, harvest celebrations, Mexican fiestas and scholarship dinners, all of which have raised money for local causes and projects.
Other organizations in the community that have benefitted by the Cedar Mesa Community Club's efforts include the House of Promise, Backpack Program, animal shelter, food bank, Angel Tree, and others. And there continues to be scholarships for deserving Cedaredge High School graduating seniors. The club's annual soup supper for scholarships was held just two weeks ago, and another event is scheduled this spring.
The Cedar Mesa Community Clubhouse is known for the elegant dinners hosted by its members. "The meeting house is available for both member and community use and continues to be a place where women and neighbors can gather in a rural area for friendship and common purpose."
Members of the club today are looking to the future while they preserve the community's social traditions that have been inherited from the area's hardy early settlers.
Today's members, from various faiths and backgrounds, continue to gather there.
NOTE: The DCI thanks the Cedar Mesa Club for opening its historical archives used in this Back Page, and a special thanks goes to Club President Kathy Bradbury who compiled the professional quality application for Colorado State Register of Historic Places.
Paonia town trustees voted at the Feb. 14 board meeting to table a resolution to participate in the statewide Space to Create. The issue will be included in the Feb. 28 agenda.