A Center for Arts and Entertainment

Belles Lettres Club


The History of Belles Lettres Club


The Belles Lettres Club was organized in 1888 for the purpose of studying literature. It has been providing programs of culture, civic, educational, and national interests to its members ever since.

In 1891, the Club joined the General Federation of Women's Clubs and a charter was granted in 1892 for the study of literature and maintaining a public library.

After the Club was federated, the women of the Belles Lettres established Oil City's first library. They were granted a room in the city building, rent, free, to be used as a library and meeting room. Bookswere purchased and donated, and the general public paid $1 a year to borrow the books.

Belles Lettres Club raised $11,000 to pay for a site for the Oil City Library, and City Council appropriated $3,000 for maintenance.

Andrew Carnegie gave more than $45,000 for the library building, and the Belles Lettres Club contributed 5,000 books and pledged monies for the purchase of new books.

In June 1923, Mr. Henry McSweeney presented his former home on West First Street to the Club for a club house. In 1928 and 1929 he gave $75,000 to the Club as an endowment fund.

The auditorium was added to the home and formally opened March 15, 1929.  In 1992, the Club purchased the property next door for the parking lot.