1919 – Charles C. Winningham purchased a combined barn and schoolhouse on Long Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills. With many additions, it became a lovely multilevel home known as Robin Hood’s Barn. Charles C. Winningham was prominent in the advertising field. He was considered an authority on Robin Hood lore. Murals depicting scenes from the tales of Robin Hood adorned the walls of the living room. He even owned a sea going yacht named Maid Marion. In addition to the living room, which retained rare timbers of the barn’s hayloft, there were six bedrooms and baths, a dining room, breakfast room, sunrooms and library. A bell shaped, spring-fed swimming pool was at the far end of the back yard. Swim meets were often held. Charles, with his first wife, Edna, raised six children in their unique home. Edna died in 1936. With his second wife, Lucille and their daughter Gail, Robin Hood’s Barn became their summer home with winters spent in Florida, but Gail always loved “her barn”. She spent many hours playing on the 7.5 acres of gardens, trees, and even an orchard. She especially liked the garden statue of Pan, which she adorned with ribbons and scarves. She also had secret places to leave notes. One was even large enough for her to hide in and give a surprise greeting to her parents’ guests as they entered the front hall. Following WW II, Robin Hood’s Barn was converted into five apartments. The Winningham family lived in one of the apartments. Charles died in 1954. His wife and daughter continued to live there until the sale of the house to The Village Club in 1961.
1956 – 1960 - The Village Woman’s Club was incorporated in May 1956 as a charitable and educational organization. Since the Club had no permanent site for a clubhouse, space was rented in the Martha Baldwin House in Birmingham. The house still stands on Maple Road. Club members helped clean and paint the rented rooms and readied them with many items obtained from S&H Green Stamps. The rooms served as the Club’s office and a place for small meetings. Coffee and tea were available in the afternoon. A milk-glass dish welcomed monetary contributions to defray expenses. These were the energetic and well-defined women who helped start The Village Woman’s Club. The idea for the Club came from Marian Gilbreath, who after lunching at the Pasadena California Town Club, came home eager to see a similar club in the Birmingham area. A nucleus of 30 women each supplied a list of names who would be contacted to join. The response was overwhelming resulting in a waiting list.
By fall the first classes were offered, community service was underway with members volunteering their time and talents, a theater trip to New York was planned and the first issue of the Club’s newsletter, The Villager, was published and all this without a clubhouse.
Property was purchased at the corner of Woodward and Chesterfield (where the Masonic Temple now stands), with the intention of building a clubhouse. However, the plans for the project could not move forward and the property was sold. The Martha Baldwin House served as a temporary site until the purchase of The Winningham House in 1961.
1961 - The Village Woman’s Club purchased the Winningham House. Renovations made it possible to now offer dining as well as provide space for classes, programs, and social events. The Club now possessed a true social dimension in addition to its educational and charitable purposes. As the years passed, however, federal tax laws necessitated separation of the social part from the other activities of the organization. Accordingly, The Village Club was established for the social and educational purposes. The Village Woman’s Club remained the charitable branch eventually becoming The Village Woman’s Club Foundation.
1983 – In 1983 it became possible to establish The Village Woman’s Club Foundation with the restating of The Village Woman’s Club Articles of Incorporation. The Foundation and The Village Club share the same membership. The Foundation is a very important part of Village Club and a testament to the Club’s community involvement. It is a major presence in the Tri-County area.
2002-2003 – The Cottage was found to be in need of repairs. These were made possible by contributions from the members to a special fund – Gifts from the Heart. The original building had been a garage. In 1963 this was converted into the Educational Building which could accommodate the growing number of classes being offered by the Club. As the years passed other activities were also held here. A name change to The Cottage seemed more inclusive. This took place in 1997. By 2004 time had taken its toll on The Cottage – its roof and flooring no longer met the building code. The special fund, from the membership, brought the much-needed repairs, changes necessary to be ADA compliant and general enhancements to the whole building. Particularly appreciated, by the cooking classes, was the updating of the portable test kitchen which received a granite top. A banquette provided attractive additional seating.
2007 – Present – A major renovation, for which plans began in 2005, was completed in 2007. It addressed the expanding needs of the Club members and included a lovely terrace for outside dining and entertaining. The terrace enhanced the gardens and rolling back lawn of the Club. Additions to the dining room and living room allowed the Club to offer space for larger receptions, parties, classes, and programs.
Today - The Village Club is a city club located in the lovely, wooded rolling landscape of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The Club provides a unique, private club experience and a friendly environment for its members. The Village Club Foundation serves charitable organizations in the Tri-County area. The educational, philanthropic and social principles, upon which the Club was founded, remain the focus of the Club. Classes, which are also offered to the community, are held; social events; trips and fine cuisine are enjoyed by the membership, while always retaining a gracious and inviting ambiance.
Learn more about the history of Robin Hoods Barn