Circle 'n Squares Mission
"The members of the Circle 'n Squares are banded together in a spirit of friendliness and good fellowship to share in the pleasures of square dancing."
From the Preamble to the By-Laws for the Circle 'n Squares.
Circle 'n Squares History
On Thursday night, February 23, 1961, at Monroe Hall, members of two square dance clubs met to discuss the formation of a single club. The two groups were the Guys and Gals, founded 1952, and the Boots and Bells, founded 1954. They had different workshop nights but the same caller, Wyatt Urton. Both clubs had many members in common.
Some of the members wanted to give this new group the whimsical name of "Blue-Tailed Flies" after the popular singing call of the time. On Thursday, March 9, 1961, when the election of the new officers was held, a new name of Circle 'n Squares won the majority vote. [This name is a contraction of Circling Squares.]
Special mention should be given to Fay and Louise Bowman of Sebastopol who were instrumental in bringing square dancing to Sonoma County in the middle of the 1940's.
We are indebted to Laverne Urton for the information above.
Circle 'n Squares Leadership Team
The club is managed by volunteer leaders elected from among the membership to the Executive Board. Each spring a slate of officers is presented by the Nominating Committee. The President role is filled by the previous year Vice President and a new Vice President candidate is nominated along with Secretary and Treasurer candidates.
2022-2023 Executive Board
Mike Donahue, President
Rod Bruner, Vice President
Bruce Weaver, Secretary
Ron Plasse, Treasurer
Charitable Activity Director
Mary Ann Harkey
New Members Committee
Judy Giorgi, co-chair
Steve Ruesel, co-chair
Mike Donahue, ex-officio
HISTORIC MONROE HALL
We're fortunate to be able to use Monroe Hall on College Avenue in Santa Rosa. The hall was built in 1922 as a community meeting place. The description below is from a document on display in the Hall.
"On Friday, February 5, 1915, nine women of the Monroe district of Santa Rosa banded together for social and mutual benefit and intellectual advancement and formed the Monroe Neighborhood Club.
"The founder and first president of the club was Mrs. D.C. Kennard; other charter members were Mrs. M. Kelsey, Mrs. G.H. Conkling, Mrs. O. Lindau, Mrs. A. Denham, Mrs. G. Niddsen, Mrs. T.H. Watson, Mrs. C.W. Whitney, and Mrs. Anna Ross. Mrs. Kennard and Mrs. Conkling are credited with promoting the original issues.
"During the first years, before the clubhouse was built, the members met at each others homes. When World War I came and there was Red Cross work to be done, Travelers’ Aid donations to meet, and knitting and sewing to be completed and rushed to the troops, it was the Monroe women who did their share; at one time more than 500 glasses of jelly were sent to the hospital at Fremont for their convalescent soldiers.
"Early proceeds for the club’s activities came from dances held at local halls and card parties of Pedro, 500, and Whist held at members’ homes and sometimes even in old chicken houses; refreshments and prizes were offered for a nominal admission of 35 cents per person.
"The clubhouse, now known as Monroe Hall, then named The Monroe Neighborhood Clubhouse, was founded on April 27, 1922. The building, originally valued at $5000, was denounced by many as being the best country clubhouse in the county. By this time the original membership of nine women had grown to thirty-four and this building was the crowning achievement in their list of efforts.
"Originally, this section of West College Avenue was part of Guerneville Road – the main traveled road in the district. When the women of the club had almost given up hope of persuading any of the farmers of the district to donate or sell a piece of ground to erect the clubhouse on, then-president, Mrs. Lena Heine persevered and succeeded in securing the promise of the sale of the piece of land on which the clubhouse now stands from Mr. J.A. Larson. The original half-acre of land was purchased by the club from J.A. Larson of Santa Rosa for $10 in 1921; later another half-acre was bought at the rear for $500, now used for parking. The building, measuring 60 feet by 70 feet and divided into theater, ballroom and club rooms, was planned and build by Contractor J. C. Lindsay of Santa Rosa. The gravel for the foundation was hauled by horse-team from the Santa Rosa Creek. On April 2, 1922, District Attorney George W. Hoyle kindly drew up papers of incorporation for the club. A note was signed to borrow $4000 from Albert E. Leggett with interest at six percent. There were 38 signers of the note, all residents of the area, including some husband-and-wife co-signers since money could not be lent solely to women. The note was for a 10-year period, but by February 28, 1929, a community supper was held to celebrate the paying off the final $1000. In 1947 the present dance floor was laid, costing approximately $1400.
"Early entertainment at the new clubhouse consisted mainly of playlets, card parties, and dances with music furnished by well-known local groups such as Cappelli’s orchestra, Cliff Dont’s orchestra, the Bavaria Club orchestra, The Merrymakers, and The Original Melody Boys. These dances quickly became semi-monthly events attended by large crowds. In these early years the clubhouse was not rented out. The members thought of the clubhouse as their own home and its use was limited to community functions. A major user of the clubhouse at this time was the old two-room Monroe School for graduations, Christmas parties and special meetings. Later, because of expenses, the women began to rent the clubhouse out for private parties, weddings, etc. to help defray costs. The members thought many times of selling the clubhouse but they held on. Once, when times were particularly tough, a member loaned the club $100 to keep it going. The Monroe Club women never forgot their sense of loyalty to the community. For many years, they made lap robes and gifts for local rest homes and county indigents at the Community Hospital. Quilts and food baskets were donated to the Reserve Mission and Salvation Army. Families in distress could always count on the Monroe Club for a helping hand.
"In February of 1954 four Folk and Square Dance clubs of Santa Rosa completed plans to use the Monroe Neighborhood Clubhouse as their headquarters. The four clubs participating in the venture were: the Three Link Swingers, the Santa Rosa Square Dance Group, the Merry Mixers, and an unnamed folk dance group. Local teacher and square dance caller Mr. Fay Bowman predicted that the hall would soon become the folk and square dance center of Sonoma County. On May 19, 1954 square dance instructors Fay Bowman and Wyatt Urton graduated seventy dancers from the Monroe Square Dance class held at the clubhouse.
"In August 1977 when the clubhouse was sold, the name was officially changed to Monroe Hall.
Many thanks to the The British Columbia Square & Round Dance Federation and CALLERLAB for the Modern Square Dance logo below.