Society: The secret life of Preston Hollow social clubs

Dallas Women’s Club (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)
Dallas Women’s Club (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Our neighborhood’s elite organizations

With its abundance of service organizations and high-profile charity events, our neighborhood sometimes feels like the nucleus of Dallas high society.

Some of these organizations are private and require current members’ nominations. Their selective tendencies are often the subject of scrutiny.

“Dallas society loves doers – people who make it in competition,” D Magazine’s A.C. Greene wrote in “Social Climber’s Handbook,” published in 1976. “The president of Southern Methodist University is seldom given entree to Dallas society; a golfer who shoots a consistent 70 has a much better chance. If he wants in. Dallas society, like most creatures, likes what likes it.”

The Dallas Women’s Club, which opened its elaborate clubhouse on Park Lane in 1966, is equal parts exclusive and elusive. It provides scholarships for college students and hosts a plethora of educational events but has dodged the public eye since its inception in 1922. Even its website is only viewable by members.

The Junior League of Dallas — another citywide organization based in Preston Hollow — takes the opposite approach and religiously recruits new members. More than 5,000 women volunteer for 130,000 hours every year, according to its website.

Although lesser known, the Preston Hollow Women’s Club is proud of its welcoming nature. Club members must live within the neighborhood’s boundaries and pay an annual fee.

It chooses a nonprofit or school to assist every three years and currently is dedicated to improving Preston Hollow Elementary.

It’s not surprising that the elementary school is the club’s philanthropic recipient. Their ties date back to 1979, when a group of mothers at the school established the social organization.

Members already raised funds for a student garden, provided supplies for a math and science closet, and replaced headphones inside the language lab.

“They have made so many strides,” says philanthropy chair Lola Sims. “They have a great principal; they’re very forward thinking.”

Sims has watched the club grow from roughly 120 to 230 members since she joined in 2006. Like many other members, her children were grown, and she wanted to fill her time with something productive. Part of the organization’s appeal is its dozens of special interest groups, from biking to book clubs to wine tastings.

“We’re just a group of women who enjoy each other’s company,” Sims says. “Having the philanthropy attached gives us a greater purpose.”


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