The 1950’s was a very significant period for the Junior League of Augusta as it influenced the history and welfare of Augusta. The Junior League of Augusta entered the 1950’s having recently established the Augusta School for Speech Correction in September 1949. In 1950, the school was charted by the State of Georgia as a non-profit institution. The institution arose to assist children and their parents with communication issues related to speech and hearing. For the first two years of operation, the school was financed entirely by the Junior League, and then in 1952, it became a member agency of the United Fund of Augusta-North Augusta. In 1958, the school moved to a new wing of the Outpatient Department of University Hospital. The Junior League was still whole-heartedly behind the project and one-half of the funds necessary for building and equipping the new facility came from a Junior League building fund.
Published “Augusta, Yesterday, and Today”: In 1950, the Arts Committee of the Junior League of Augusta, published “Augusta, Yesterday, and Today”. The 52 page booklet contained photographs and a short history of the last 200 years of Augusta. The “Augusta Today” section, written by Henry Wright, the City Editor from the Augusta Herald, gave information on gardens to visit during the spring garden tours, population figures, the future of Clarks Hill Dam, business outlook, and many other interesting facts.
A Charter member of Friends of the Augusta Library and sponsored story hour: In 1951, the JL of Augusta became one of the charter members of the Friends of the Augusta Library. The Friends of the Library was organized to promote the Augusta Library. The League had for some years sponsored a children’s story hour there each week.
Celebrated Silver Anniversary: In 1954, the JL of Augusta celebrated their Silver Anniversary with a tea at the Augusta County Club. It began as the Junior Workers and its 75 civic minded women then joined the Association of Junior Leagues of America
Purchase, restoration, and renaming of the Murphey House: The Junior League of Augusta purchased the Murphey House at 432 Telfair Street in July of 1954; they restored the original title to the “Old Government House” in Oct. 1954. The house was originally built in 1790 and housed the Richmond County halls of justice until 1821 when the new courthouse was built. General George Washington was entertained in the house in 1791 when as President of the United States he visited the city. The JL members sought out all available facts related to the history of the house and set about restoring the house to its original status, both architecturally and in the furnishings. Restoration continued through the rest of the decade and at the end of 1959, the house was deemed preserved and available for wedding receptions, garden club meetings, teas, etc.
The 1960’s provided a new canvas for creativity for the League as they contributed to the welfare and cultural life of Augusta. The 1962 Follies, “Rockets & Rockettes”, benefited the Speech and Hearing Center. The Follies was a real professional production with Broadway scenery, costumes and directed by a noted Broadway director. The cast of over 100 included 95% of its talent from the JL members and their husbands. The 1967 Follies, “Hearts A Go-Go,” benefited the Community Trust Fund and helped to materially support the various community projects of the League.
Gourmet Touch cookbook: In 1962, the league debuted their latest project, one that is still with us today. We know it buy the name “Tea Time”, but in 1962 it was known as the “Gourmet Touch” cookbook. The four chairmen compiled a book of famous Augusta recipes. When it was published, it contained 700 recipes. It also included favorite recipes of famous people Jackie Kennedy and Mamie Eisenhower and famous restaurants across the nation, The 4 Seasons, Club 21, and Le Fon de Sol’s in New York. It was sold for $3.25 at White’s Murphy Stationary Shop.
Books of Knowledge: In 1963, the League initiated a new project, “Books of Knowledge” for Augusta College to help them build their library. Plans called for League volunteers to work at the Augusta College library for three years and for the contribution of $10,000 over a three year period. After the 1963-1964 school year, the Augusta College librarian had high praise for the league, “Without their help, the library staff would have been unable to carry out their duties. Members of the JL have relieved staff members from many duties and enabled them to have more time to assist the students in using the resources of the library.”
Frontier of Fun: The cultural arts committee of the JL sponsored “Frontier of Fun”, for children. Through the series, the JL offered programs in the adventures into the realms of science, dance, customs of foreign lands, arts and many cultural activities. One series was called, “Carnival of Animals” and all local elementary school children were invited.
Lynndale School for Retarded Children: In 1966, the League instituted a project for the Lynndale School for Retarded Children. The League helped by assisting teachers, planning menus, teaching music, and bowling.
Historic Augusta: Also, in 1966, the League partnered with Historic Augusta to help preserve buildings.
Greater Augusta Arts Council: In 1967, our league founded the Greater Augusta Arts Council in conjunction with the Junior Woman’s Club and Chamber of Commerce.
Throughout the decade, the league was praised for their volunteerism. There were editorials praising their personal concern for mankind’s needs, the league taking an active interest in helping approximately 60 girls at the Girls Center, which provides emotional and physical care to girls to assist them in learning to be better citizens in the community, and the overall emphasis of the League to serve others.