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Handicraft Club Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / January 23, 2019 /   Loading Disqus...

Women are sewing intricate stitches on small felted animals. Others are preparing for acrylic painting and journaling classes to begin. Numerous large looms display colorful and detailed patterns of in-the-works projects, while woven baskets await finishing touches.

This is the Handicraft Club, where creativity and comaraderie abound. “It’s a unique club. If you’re interested in crafts, it will draw you in,” says Fran Gammell-Roach, president.

Founded in 1904, the Club works “to promote interest in all kinds of handicrafts and to provide a place where such work can be done.” That place has been the Truman Beckwith House at the corner of Providence’s Benefit and College streets since 1925 when the Club purchased the house which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Club was started by women who were interested in the arts and crafts movement. Initially, they met in members’ homes. They wanted to enrich art in their homes and in the community,” explains Margie Edwards, investment committee chair.

“With RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) here, we have a large community of artists,” continues Fran, noting the Club has approximately 400 members about half of whom actively take classes. The Club offers eight-week sessions each spring, fall, and winter in areas as popular as knitting, painting, and needlepoint, as well as lesser-known crafts including antler baskets and metal weaving.

“We’re commmitted to seeing that the arts and crafts of previous generations are carried on, and we want to attract new members. When we started, everyone could walk to the Club, but now about 70% of our members live outside Providence. We draw from all over Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts,” says Margie, adding, “We’re also an older membership. People are staying active much later in life. Many of our members are in their 80s.”

The Club has had an endowment since 1964 to support maintenance and repair of its historic property. Of their decision to transfer funds to the Foundation, Fran states, “We want our donors to have the option of knowing they’re giving to a permanent fund that is part of a large, well-established community fund.”

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