Deer Lodge Women's League Chapter House

Woman suffrage was at the political forefront when Edward Gardner Lewis, a St. Louis promoter and publisher of women’s magazines, founded the American Women’s League in 1908. Lewis saw the League as the perfect means to promote American womanhood and among several League institutions he founded was a correspondence school called the People’ University. Chapter houses across the country served as University branches. League membership was achieved through magazine subscription sales or pledges of $52 worth of Lewis’ publications. In exchange, the League constructed 39 local chapter houses in 16 states including two in Montana at Avon and Deer Lodge. Deer Lodge women’s groups banded together to collect the requisite subscriptions and C. D. Terret donated the lot. This Prairie style bungalow, designed by St. Louis architects, was built according to one of five standardized chapter house plans. Wide bracketed eaves, heavy piers, and low side planters emphasize the horizontal orientation typical of the Prairie style, while exposed beams, dark moldings, and original stenciling highlight the Arts and Crafts interior. Financial reversals sent Lewis into bankruptcy as this house reached completion. Founding League member Alma Bielenberg Higgins appealed to her father, Nicholas J. Bielenberg, who purchased the mortgage. He donated the building to the women of Deer Lodge in memory of his daughter, Augusta, who died in 1901. The Deer Lodge Woman’s Club has since maintained the facility, which has always served its intended function as a women’s cultural, literary, and social center.



800 Missouri Avenue, Deer Lodge, Montana ~ Public