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The Souvenir of Western Women/The Portland Woman's Union


The Portland Woman's Union

By ELIZABETH STORY HAMILTON

THE Portland Woman's Union was established October 21, 1887, in view of opening and maintaining a boarding house for young, self- supporting women, where, at a moderate cost, they would have the comforts and protection afforded in a private home. For seventeen years a board of faithful women has successfully carried on the work. The boarding house is situated on a quarter block at the south-east corner of Fifteenth and Flanders streets. The house is fitly appointed for the purpose. There are two parlors, two pianos, a library well supplied with books, and many of the best periodicals, a sewing room, and a laundry, all of which are open to the boarders day and evening. They also have free access to the lawn, fruit and flowers.

The union being entirely out of debt, a brick addition to the house is contemplated. To promote the interests of women—always the central idea of the union—the scope of the work became broadened as soon as the boarding house was self-supporting. In 1896 the Woman's Exchange was established by the union, though only in a small way. For many years a case of fancy work in the corridor of the Hotel Portland seemed all that was advisable, but in November, 1903. an exchange in the true sense of the word was opened under the auspices of the Woman's Union, and the success has been gratifying. Many women have been materially helped thereby.

The members of the union realizing that incompetency is the primary cause of suffering in the case of untold numbers of women, to the degree that "destroyed for lack of knowledge" could be written truthfully over many of their failures, questioned how can we add our mite to train and mould these to more thorough competency. Surely no better way could be devised than through the kitchen garden and sewing school to direct the lives of the women of the future. Mindful of this, the kitchen garden, with its three-fold object—to rescue the child from idleness and ignorance; to make the homes better and brighter; to make competent helpers—was opened in connection with classes in sewing. This industrial school was successfully carried on for four years, until the building in which it was held was sold. No other room being available, the kitchen garden was temporarily closed. The sewing department of the school is now held at the boarding house, and much interest is manifested by the mothers and the children as well as the faithful instructors.

The Portland Woman's Union is glad to welcome strangers within its doors, and trust that they who find entertainment there may cherish a kindly remembrance of the home.