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[p. 80]

The Society's building enterprise.

Mention was made of this in our issue of July, 1916, under title of ‘A Forward Movement,’ and in others note made of progress. It is thought best to give in this, the following statement, thus of permanent record:

January, 1915, found our society (even after extra effort made), with a deficit of about $116 in current and publication expenses. Our old home was still in serious need of repair, though much had recently been expended. As no other plan seemed feasible, the society had by vote decided to sell the same. The new administration found itself confronted with new and serious conditions immediately after the closing meeting of the season by its sale and our consequent removal. It had occupied the Lydia Maria Child house almost from its start, first as tenant, and later becoming proprietor, having paid therefor $1,000, and mortgaging for $3,000 at a low rate of interest. This mortgage the purchaser assumed and later paid, the society receiving $1,500 for its equity in the property.

As the above thousand dollars was donated to the society; for that specific purpose, an equal amount was deposited on interest for a similar use, leaving $500, from which resultant expenses of sale and new expenses of administration had to be met. As the new item of rent was itself in excess of the society's income, it was evident that matters could not long thus continue. Various plans of relief were proposed, none of which on examination proved advisable, until in June, 1916, the directors recommended the society to acquire a permanent home by the purchase of land and erection of a building. This was adopted by the society by vote, and the matter referred to the directors for execution. with but one restriction, viz., that no work be begun until $1,000 had been pledged. This was strictly observed; but in the meantime circumstances had arisen that required a change of location and of plan. This entailed added expense and loss of several weeks of time most favorable for construction work. [p. 81]

The directors assumed responsibility and the society by vote approved their action. The building committee of five was soon reduced to three by the serious and continued illness of two of its number. It had already chosen one of its number (who had prepared the plans) superintendent of construction, who erected the building at absolute cost for the society, though in the stress of increasing difficulty, it is not yet wholly complete. It was deemed advisable to move into it at the earliest possible time, and in January this was done. Like some other tenants who find it ‘cheaper to move than pay rent,’ we had then a three months unpaid bill which our landlord kindly waited for until we were enabled by our new year's dues to pay the same. At this time most of the pledges made to the building fund had been paid in and expended upon the work, and with the little in sight, for a time little was done other than by the superintendent. In the price of materials (when purchased) he found at first a little advance over estimates given a few weeks before, but nothing like that which has come later. As time elapsed, the turmoil of war in Europe involved America, and the raising of funds for our needs could make no headway amid the drives for Liberty Loans, Red Cross, Y. M. C. A., and our local charities. Our incurred bills were made no larger. Some were reduced a little, as occasional contributions were made, while our patient creditors waited our action.

In December, 1918, an effort was made to secure $2,000 to complete the building and pay all outstanding bills. About one-half of the amount was pledged and partially paid in by April i, 1919, when matters became complicated by a possible suit at law by one of the smaller creditors. Up to that (and present) time the entire cost (to the society) of the building and land is $4,9751, and the entire remaining indebtedness to ten creditors, $1,682.12. To nine of these was owing the aggregate sum of $604.51, in sums of from $10 to $158; all balances of accounts. As part of the money [p. 82] had been received without conditions, it was the wish of the other creditor (whose account was not a balance but his entire bill) that the minor bills be paid, and the effort to raise the other thousand continued. At this juncture came an insistent demand for immediate settlement of one creditor's claim. Upon this, one of the directors immediately volunteered to take the matter of settlement in hand. His action resulted in a contribution to the fund by each creditor, of a sum equalling 45% of his claim, whereupon every claim was settled in full, as shown by the treasurer's vouchers.

By the foregoing it will be seen that the new home of the society on Governors avenue stands today with no encumbrance of debt, through the kind forbearance of creditors for two years and their generous assistance at last. This was preceded by the conservation of earlier gifts, and the generous aid of comparatively few, and those mainly of our membership. We could wish the final result otherwise attained, as we began the enterprise in good faith, and with perhaps an over-confidence in the public spirit of Medford. Our final pledges were expected to pay all bills. Had the society been subjected to a suit at law by one creditor, all others must have suffered. As a matter of fact, all readily acceded to that director's suggestion, and to them our thanks are due, and to all others who have aided in our work for the interests of Medford. It has been done without the instrumentality of a so-called ‘construction’ which means destruction loan. Every penny of every contribution thereto is accounted for, and obtained value. To those skeptical ones who ‘must be shown,’ those who perhaps really think we ‘had no need’ of a home, and that ‘it was all the creation of one mind’—to such especially it should be evident that under the conditions that came and now are, the following statement is pertinent. Had the enterprise not been launched when it was, the society would today truly be, as one said of it at the sale of the old home,—homeless and friendless.

1 Approximately.

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