McLean Historian and Author Carole Herrick was kind enough to serve as WCM’s Holiday Homes Chairman on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Woman’s Club of McLean fundraising event in December, 2016. At that time, Carole wrote an article for Viva Tysons Magazine about the history of WCM’s commitment to service in the McLean community. With the permission of both Viva Tysons and Carole Herrick, portions of that article are printed here for the further edification of the general public.
WOMAN'S CLUB OF MCLEAN
By Carole Herrick
The Holiday Homes Tour is the primary fundraising project of the Woman’s Club of McLean. Since its inception the Woman’s Club of McLean has raised over $1,000,000 through the homes tour alone and donated the proceeds to the community. In addition to scholarships, a few of the local charities and nonprofits that have benefited from this half-century tour event include: The Wounded Warrior Program at Vinson Hall, Alternative House, Fisher House, Capital Hospice, Share, McLean Symphony, McLean Orchestra, McLean Project for the Arts, McLean Volunteer Fire Department, Falls Church/ McLean Children’s Center, and Claude Moore Colonial Farm.
The Woman’s Club of McLean was founded with 18 members on February 4, 1958, and was inducted into the General Federation of Women’s Clubs the following month with 39 charter members. Betty Squire was McLean’s first president, followed two years later by Olive Staley. This was an era of “at home mothers” and the period when McLean began to grow from a sleepy rural farming community into the suburban style atmosphere we know today. These women wasted no time in pooling their talents to help better the expanding community by volunteering when needed and beginning their fundraising efforts.
One of their early projects was a “Silver Tea,” held in 1960 at Susan and Clive DuVal’s historic home, Salona. The proceeds went toward the purchase of a 2,000,000 volt x-ray machine, known as a maxitron, for the Medical College of Virginia. In 1963,
In 1963, McLean residents began a movement to build a community center that would support civic, cultural, social, and teen activities. The Woman’s Club of McLean was heavily involved in the project and, along with other organizations, gave hard-earned funds to get the venture “off the ground."
Beginning in 1966, the club began sponsoring a “Matinee of the Arts” program to give music, ballet, and art students in area schools an opportunity to perform and show their work before the public. McLean schools then received additional funding for their art and music appreciation budgets from the ticket sales.
There were many other projects the club tackled over the years, including a cookbook, but it is the Holiday Homes Tour that is the hallmark of its accomplishments. The first Home Tour was held in 1966. It featured eight homes, a ticket cost $2.00, tourgoers provided their own transportation, and patrons could begin at any home. The following year, the admission price was increased to $2.50 and the tour was supplemented with a crafts boutique, sandwiches, and drinks that were available at a central location, which was the model home for the new Evermay subdivision. The ticket price steadily rose over the years until reaching today’s price of $25.00.
The Holiday Homes Tour is about more than raising money for area needs: it indirectly offers a unique way for the public to learn about McLean’s history. The tour was, and still is, a blend of the past and the present. The Woman’s Club of McLean preceded the McLean Historical Society, which formed in 1992, and inadvertently began generating an awareness of McLean’s rich history through its annual Holiday Homes Tour. The McLean tour provides a pamphlet that includes a brief history of each house. After all, each house has a story to tell, whether it be a pre-Civil War structure that has weathered the trials of time, or one recently built on the land of a former farm.
The community owes a debt of gratitude to the McLean Woman’s Club. Its members have provided residents an opportunity to visit some of McLean’s most interesting homes over the past 50 years, and in so doing, have raised not only money, but an awareness of architecture, landscaping, decorating, and McLean’s rich history.
Many thanks to Carole Herrick for her highly respected and monumental contributions to McLean, Virginia history. Without her diligent and insightful work, it is likely that McLean's historic treasury would remaining severely lacking. The Woman's Club of McLean membership is very grateful for being part of Carole's impressive body of work on the history of our hometown.