Martha Mickler is the new president of the Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine for 2017-18 succeeding Judy Riggle who was president for two years.
Mickler will lead the organization as it marks its 125th year of community service. It was founded in 1892 by the Whatsoever Circle (now known as the Rosalie James Circle) of the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons. The Woman’s Exchange was founded on Nov. 1, 1892 and is the second-oldest woman’s organization in St. Augustine.
Mickler says she plans to honor the history and traditions of the past 125 years and focus on the future. She stated “it is an honor to serve as President of the Woman’s Exchange during our 125th year. The Woman’s Exchange is an organization rich in history, tradition and service”.
Mickler and the new executive board were elected in April and installed at the May annual meeting in the garden of the historic Peña-Peck House on St. George Street. Serving with her are: First Vice President Jane Weizmann; Second Vice President Joanna McCune; Recording Secretary Pat Horn; Corresponding Secretary Sarah Wood Hunt; House Treasurer Carol Eklund and Shop Treasurer Bonnie Ewing.
Judy Riggle, immediate past president, becomes parliamentarian. Riggle also is Membership Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federation of Woman’s Exchanges. The Federation is a national organization of Woman’s Exchanges; not-for-profit groups that help people achieve economic stability through the consignment and sale of their fine-quality hand-crafted items.
Margo Pope, a past president of both the Woman’s Exchange and the Federation, conducted the installation.
During the annual meeting, Riggle recapped the challenging year the Woman’s Exchange had as a result of damage to the Anna Gardner Burt Memorial Garden and the Pena Peck House during Hurricane Matthew in October. Riggle quoted Dickens at the meeting, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. She thanked all the members for their support in helping to recover from the hurricane damage. Riggle stated “it was a privilege to lead such a wonderful organization and I look forward to supporting our new president as we go into our 125th year.
Story since Matthew
The Exchange reopened 11 days after the hurricane and met all contracts for weddings in the garden, and hosted the first luncheon of its Fall luncheon series in 12 days.
The garden’s restoration, Riggle said, was made possible by donations from members and community residents who heard of its fate from the news media. Riggle also announced that a generous donation from the Camellia Garden Club will finance the new garden arbor to replace the one heavily damaged by Matthew.
A highlight of the annual meeting is the welcoming of new members. This year, the Woman’s Exchange welcomed five new members: Linda Avery, Lisa Chismark, Pat King, Anne-Marie Parramore and Cathy White. During their provisional year they will be learning about the organization by training to be tour docents, shop volunteers, work during the two luncheon seasons, and on special events.
The Woman’s Exchange took over the management of the Pena Peck House and garden on behalf of the City of St. Augustine in 1932. The multiple missions of the Woman’s Exchange are to help women achieve economic stability, promote hand-crafting through the sale of fine-quality, unique items made by consignors in the gift shop, and to show and preserve the Peña-Peck House at 143 St. George St.
The house was willed to the city in 1931 by it last owner, Anna Gardner Burt, whose grandparents, Dr. Seth Peck and his wife Sarah Lay Peck bought the house in 1837 and added the second story. The house was built circa 1750 for the Spanish Royal Treasurer Juan Estevan de Peña by order of the King of Spain. It was later home to two British period governors, John Moultrie and Patrick Tonyn. During Tonyn’s time, his official residence also became the last seat of the British government in North America, south of Canada, at the end of the Revolutionary War. It is one of the few coquina homes of the First Spanish Period that survive today in St. Augustine. Tours are offered daily and the garden is available for weddings and other special events.