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Monticola Club Donates History Book to Susanville Library

Monday, November 25th, 2019

By Patty Davie

Monticola Club, a local women’s club dedicated to community service, recently presented a history of Monticola Club’s impact on Susanville to the Lassen Library District. The book, “Monticola Club—Over 100 Years of Service” provides a view of how one organization has contributed to the educational, cultural and visual enrichment and growth of Susanville during the past century.

Monticola Club was founded 107 years ago in 1912 by Philenda Spencer, a progressive woman with far-reaching ideas.

The current members felt it was important to donate a copy of the book to the library since one of the early goals of the club was a library. Shortly after their founding, members wrote for information about a Carnegie Library, and in 1914, Mrs. Charlotte (Lottie) Cahlan, then 1st Vice President, visited the State Library in Sacramento.

Shortly thereafter a library association was formed with members of Monticola’s Executive Board and four local businessmen. With financial assistance from the Chamber of Commerce and the Town Trustees, plus donations of books and furnishings and members volunteering to serve one day a month as librarian, the “Reading and Rest Room” was opened in the fall of 1914.

This room, located on the southeast corner of Main and Roop Streets, provided a place for visitors and local people to read newspapers, magazines or books while in Susanville on their monthly horse and buggy trip to town for supplies. This was the start of the Susanville Library. Over the years, Monticola Club members have continued to support the library in many ways.

Education, literacy, health and safety, cultural events and the arts and beautification are cornerstones of the club’s service to Susanville. Monticola Club, along with 20 other organizations finally made Memorial Park a reality in the late 1940’s. Many of the lilacs around the community were part of a beautification project that started in 1947. The sunburst locust trees in front of Lassen High School were another Monticola project.

The Club helped maintain and improve the “swimming pool” (actually a swimming hole!) in the Susan River in 1919. That “pool” was short lived several years later when the water in the river was declared “unfit.” In 1936 the Club went on to support the building of Roosevelt Pool using WPA funds, and this fall donated funds for an umbrella table at the new community pool.

Since 1959 Monticola Club has awarded scholarships to deserving students from Lassen High School and Lassen Community College. The club also supports HOBY — the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership seminar which allows a local sophomore student to attend the weekend training event. Sober Graduation, the Lassen County Science Fair and Sober Graduation all benefit from Monticola Club’s efforts.

For many years Monticola Club sponsored the quarterly community blood drives. Members visited patients at the Hospital and convalescent home at Christmas and Valentine’s Day to cheer them with song and cards. Currently the members donate to local food shelves at each meeting, and over the years have donated to various health and safety programs and fundraisers.

One of the biggest projects was completed in 1952. It took many years to raise the funds, but the Clubhouse at 140 South Lassen Street finally became a reality. It serves as a meeting place for the members, as well as a cheerful venue for organizations and individuals to hold meetings, parties and other gatherings. The members have worked diligently to maintain the building as an important community resource, adding handicap access and making the building more energy efficient, which, as any building owner knows, requires funds.

For an interesting perspective on Susanville history through the lens of a women’s community service organization, check out the new book “Monticola Club — Over 100 Years of Service” at the Lassen Library District located at 1618 Main Street near Grocery Outlet. Books may also be purchased at the Lassen County Historical Museum on North Weatherlow Street or at Margie’s Book Nook on Main Street in uptown Susanville. Money raised from the sale of the books goes back into the community through Monticola Club’s various service projects.

For more information about Monticola Club contact Naomi Turner, president, at 310-3496 or Barbara Chavez, membership chair at 257-4255.

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