ST. ABLANS, W.Va. -- When Carolyn Holstein became president of the Woman's Club of St. Albans in 1988, there were 165 members dedicated to community improvement and volunteering.
Today, just 27 women -- most in their 80s -- volunteer to cook, clean, and serve for St. Albans.
Those 27 members of the GFWC-WV St. Albans Woman's Club met for the last time this month in the same house the women have used since John VanRensalear Skinner left it to the group in 1949.
The GFWC is short for General Federation of Women's Clubs, which the St. Albans Women's Club was accepted into in 1920. On Dec. 1, the GFWC-WV St. Albans Woman's Club will withdraw from the GFWC.
With such a small group now, the nonprofit can't financially fund the $1,000-a-month bill it costs to maintain the house, Holstein said.
The group also hosted homemade meals for organizations such as the Rotary Club and Pilot Club, as well as weddings, receptions and reunions.
St. Albans Woman's Club members completed an annual community project and even bought the St. Albans High School marching band's uniforms, Holstein said.
The women will still meet. Their new meeting place, however, at the St. Albans Historical Society will be rent-free, nonpermanent and they no longer will host dinners or receptions, she said.
Holstein, a St. Albans club member since 1965, said she and the others are upset to leave the place their group has called home for more than 60 years, but they just can't afford it anymore.
"We had to do it," she said. "We got into the real world, where the young people who would be very helpful to us have two jobs and families.
"It's 2012; it's not 1950. And that's the reality, that times are different," Holstein said while sitting in a bay window at the Kanawha Terrace house Thursday. "We've just done a tremendous amount of community service and we enjoyed it so much because we love this house, but this is it."
Skinner purchased the house, known as "The Beeches," along with a mill for $3,750 in the early 1900s. Collis P. Huntington, who was instrumental in building the C&O Railroad, built the large, Italian-style wood house along Kanawha Terrace in 1873 and 1874.