The Farmer's Club
The Farmers’ Club at 105 S. Chestnut Street, dedicated in 1914 in memory of Captain Meedy Shields, was constructed as a gathering and resting place for farm families coming to town for business and supplies. Traveling was slower in the early 1900s and coming to town might be an all-day affair.
M.S. Blish, the grandson of Meedy Shields, owned a grain mill that processed the crop farmers brought to town. Recognizing that farming was a family affair, he wanted to make everyone more comfortable during the time they spent away from home. Membership for the whole family came free, absolutely no charge to use anything in the building.
The Farmers' Club included stained glass skylights and a fireplace. Two nurseries made life simpler for new mothers. A kitchen and dining room were invaluable for feeding hungry families. And indoor bathrooms provided a luxury that farmhouses in the area did not. Indoor plumbing was rare in 1914.
The Farmers’ Club was the only one like it in the Midwest. The dedication was a huge event with the arrival of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture David Franklin Houston who spoke about the ways the government was working to improve the business of farming. One comment stated that many farmers grew crops that couldn’t be sold, so the government helped them to choose profitable crops and found new uses for other crops that might be deemed less marketable.
Once automobiles made trips to town a shorter event that didn’t require long stays, the Farmers’ Club was relegated to other uses. World War II (1941-1945) saw it used as a cadet center for Army fliers stationed at Freeman Field. Afterwards, it was used as a teen center, and then a Red Cross facility.
The old Farmers’ Club was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, recognizing its importance as a historic site. Currently, the building houses the Seymour Chamber of Commerce.