The Ladies' Literary Club
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The Ladies' Literary Club in Ypsilanti
Members of The Ladies' Literary Club in a 1936 Fourth of July Photograph
The Ladies' Literary Club House Michigan Historic Site Marker
The Interior of The Ladies' Literary Club House
Backstory and Context
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Before this iconic Greek Revival structure was purchased by the Ladies' Literary Club, it was known in Ypsilanti as the Grant Residence. Built in the early 1840s by Arden Ballard, the home had numerous owners in its first decade until Edward Grant finally purchased the home and resided there for a few decades. Due to financial difficulties, Grant was forced to sell the residence to the Ladies' Literary Club in 1913 for $3,000.
The Ladies' Literary Club in Ypsilanti was founded in 1878 by Sarah Putnam, the wife of the mayor and a college professor. Putnam and her husband had moved to Ypsilanti from Lansing and she wanted to replicate what she had left in Lansing: a group for women to come together to read, study, and discuss. In the late 19th century, it was unheard of for women to attend university; their place was in the home. The women of the Ladies' Literary Club could expand their knowledge of different themes and countries by focusing each month on a different topic; in essence these meetings were their education. The Club started out with just around 10 members, but soon the group was at around 150 and outgrowing the small meeting place they started in.
From the wooden shutters to the four majestic 20 foot columns out front, the clubhouse remains largely the same as it was at the turn of the 20th century when purchased by the Ladies' Literary Club. In 1934, the head of the University of Michigan's architecture program requested the structure be registered by the Advisory Committee of the American Building Survey. In March of 1972 the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ladies' Literary Club formed the nonprofit Ladies' Literary House Foundation to raise funds for the preservation of the clubhouse and to support the local Historic District.
The Ladies' Literary Club is still thriving with around 120 members that meet to discuss poetry, literature, and more. The Club is also passionate about the advancement of young women in Ypsilanti, providing scholarships to students at local colleges and universities. The clubhouse is available to tour upon request.
Avellan, Jorge. Hidden In Plain Sight: Ladies' Literary Club In Ypsilanti, WEMU89.1. July 1st 2019. Accessed August 19th 2019. https://www.wemu.org/post/hidden-plain-sight-ladies-literary-club-ypsilanti.
Ladies Literary Club. History, Ladies Literary Club . Accessed August 19th 2019. https://ladiesliteraryclub.org/history/.
Ladies Literary Club. House Foundation, Ladies Literary Club. Accessed August 19th 2019. https://ladiesliteraryclub.org/house-foundation/.
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Ypsilanti Historical Society
Ladies Literary Club