While still in its infancy in 1910 and with a huge tent being used for church services and public gatherings, the City of St. Cloud on March 14 of that year, saw the birth of a Woman’s Club. The members dedicated themselves to civic improvements and literary advancement. By October of that year, the By Laws were changed and they became known as the Ladies Improvement Club.
St. Cloud was only a “flag” station on the Atlantic Coast Line railway at the time but the club was responsible for having that designation removed from the railway time schedule and when the new train station structure was built the club was allowed to install a reading room. The first piece of sidewalk in the city was made out of sacks of cement and was donated by the women club members.
Some of the first needs identified by the women were that of a library and a public park. They also began the push for a soldier’s home in St. Cloud and for a time it appeared this would become a reality but St. Petersburg was chosen as the site for it. Making improvements to the school system was also a project for the club. They began to collect books and magazines for their library and soon outgrew several locations so began to raise funds and soon obtained a 12 ft. by 15 ft. building for $75.00. Within a few years larger facilities were needed so fundraising efforts began – lectures, plays, musicals, talent shows, sales of ice cream and lantern slide shows.
In 1917, the Club became affiliated with the state organization and began steps to procure a permanent library building. The onset of World War I delayed their efforts but in May of 1922 a contract was awarded and a new library was built. The Veterans Memorial Library, as it was named was maintained and operated by volunteers of the Woman’s Club of St. Cloud (formerly the Ladies Improvement Club in 1941) until 1968 when it became part of the Osceola County Library System. In 2001, the City of St. Cloud purchased the building, plans were developed for its use as a museum to house historic records and artifacts. It was dedicated as the St. Cloud Heritage Museum on February 19, 2005.
**Photo Courtesy: FL Memory and "Images of America St. Cloud" by Jim Robison and Robert A. Fisk
**Information provided by Anza Bast