History Of The Oak Cliff Society Of Fine Arts
The Early Years
The Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts was formed February 8, 1926 in artist, Frank Reaugh’s, Lake Cliff studio. The founders, nineteen ladies, sought to heighten all aspects of art in the community. Mrs. Dwight Horton served as the first president. In the early years the OCSFA met in the Frank Reaugh Studio, the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Cliff Dallas Commercial Association Auditorium, owned by Mr. Martin Weiss. In 1933, the OCSFA established its home at the Oak Cliff YMCA, located at Beckley and Tenth Street.
When founding member and twelve year president, Mrs. E. P. Turner, died in 1938, her two sons deeded the family home to OCSFA. The home, located at 324 South Marsalis, served as a memorial to Mrs. Turner and a permanent home for the society. The property was renamed the E. P. Turner Clubhouse.
The Organization Grows
The OCSFA’s promotion of art, music, poetry, literature and drama made the organization a civic and cultural asset to Oak Cliff and Dallas. By 1933 membership had expanded to over 600 members. The vigorous membership growth brought expanded interests and sub-groups were formed. The Junior Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts formed in 1933 and the Daughters Auxiliary of the Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts formed in 1942. These sub-groups accommodated the expanded interests in gardening, home decoration, historic preservation and philanthropy.
A New Home
Plans for U.S. Highway 35E routed the freeway through the E. P. Turner Clubhouse and the organization was forced to relocate. The State of Texas purchased the property in 1957. Proceeds from the sale were used to purchase the current home located at 401 North Rosemont. This new home was renamed the E. P. Turner Clubhouse.
The OCSFA continued with an exclusive female membership for the next four decades. However, through the years membership declined and in 2000 only twelve members remained. In an effort to increase membership, the Society, for the first time, extended membership to men. James Prothro assembled a small group of Oak Cliff residents who began restructuring the OCSFA. In 2001 a Board of Directors was established and a new mission was adopted.
The Board of Directors and Benefactors have been working steadily to restore and improve Turner House and expand the purpose of the Society. In 2007, the Board drafted and adopted new Vision, Mission and Values statements. We value the histories of the house and the organization and want both to continue to be assets and resources for Oak Cliff. Our future holds major and minor restoration projects for Turner House and an evolution in our relationship with the community and the arts.