National Register of Historic Places


Ralston Community Clubhouse

Ralston

Date Added to Register

Thursday, July 23, 1998

Smithsonian Number

48PA1316

Read all about it

The Ralston Community Clubhouse building was originally constructed as a schoolhouse in 1914 by members of the community. It has served as the clubhouse for the Ralston Community Club since 1930. The building exhibits typical one-room school characteristics with its one-story, simple, rectangular shape, windows located on one wall and the entry vestibule. The Clubhouse holds significance locally and regionally because it functioned as the location for both social and community service activities. In a region of distances and isolation, the Clubhouse has brought women and their families together to share in each others lives and that of the community.

The town of Ralston was on the eastern edge of the Garland Unit of the Shoshone Irrigation Project that opened for homesteading in November 1907. The region was a ''sagebrush and cactus covered desert'' when 276 farms were homesteaded at the first opening of the project. Ralston grew with the influx of settlers to the region and functioned as the service center for the homesteaders. Women working together inspired the creation of the Ralston Community Club. The early years on the reclamation project were difficult and household work occupied nearly every waking minute. In the fall of 1919, after a group of women gathered together to harvest potatoes, the women decided to have afternoon meetings every two weeks in private homes and serve light refreshments. The name chosen for these meetings was the Ralston Community Club with the motto ''general welfare.'' Membership gradually grew by invitation to 39 members. In 1923, the club was officially organized and a constitution adopted. The abandoned Ralston Schoolhouse became the Clubhouse in 1930. In 1946 the Club incorporated with a stated purpose ''to promote social activities for the general welfare of the community through education, social and civic programs...'' The Clubhouse provided members a place to proceed with their community service activities, especially those that require collection and preparation of donated materials or goods. In the 1940s, club work concentrated around war efforts where members sewed Red Cross garments and prepared Christmas boxes for the enlisted men and women. As a social center, the Club held dances, potlucks, pie socials and bazaars, and started a tradition of having a booth at the county fair. The building is significant as an illustration of how isolated communities in the sparsely populated regions of the West developed various means to achieve community solidarity and cohesion. The Ralston Community Clubhouse is a tangible example of how women helped bind their community together in the face of an unforgiving environment.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources