During the 1920’s were a time of change in our country. We experienced many and significant milestones such as: an airplane’s first transcontinental flight; the Sacco-Vanzetti case, women win the right to vote; and, the first talking picture. It was the era of prohibition, bath tub gin, high skirts, the Charleston, raccoon coats and on January 1, 1920 the Malden Rotary Club received the inaugural charter from Rotary International.
A visit to the Providence, Rhode Island, Rotary Club, late in the fall of 1919 inspired Charles Moss, one of Malden’s outstanding ministers, to organize a Malden Rotary Club. Reverend Moss had investigated the fast growing Rotary movement and wanted Malden to have a club that would provide civic activities and foster boys work. As a result he called together a number of business men to explain to the significance of a Rotary Club. To help him tell the story of Rotary, he called in Governor Charles Lovett of the Lynn Club and a number of meetings were held in the Malden Club Rooms over the Caldwell Furniture Company (later the Masonic Temple) and twenty-four business men signed up as charter members.
The officers and and first members were: President: Charles H. Moss, Vice Pres.: Fredrick Prescott, Secretary: Charles E. Keniston, and Treasurer: William Halliday.
Directors:Mark M. Converse, Robert A. Hodgdon, Joshua T. Day, George E. Blakesly, and Elmore E. Locke.
Other members were: Frank a. Bayrd, Arthur H. Benoit, Alvin E. Bliss, Leburton E. Butler, Charles L. Hamilton, Walter S. Hopkins, Walter R. Huggins, Frederick R. Kaulback, Alexander Kerr, Lloyd Makepeice, Lester D. Marsh, Farnsworth G. Marshall, Lucien Pierce, Francis A. Shove, and Frank R. Surcon.
The first meeting place was on the third floor of the Kaulback Building, which stood on the corner of Pleasant Street and what is now South Washington Street. When the building was being moved and relocated on Exchange Street, to put Washington Street through to Exchange, meetings were held at the Y.M.C.A. The Malden Charter # 584 is dated January 1, 1920. Two weeks later, January 16th, the Malden Rotary Club takes on its first community project- a drive to re-establish the Boy Scouts in Malden. Under the chairmanship of Charles Keniston the club raises $5000.00 in only three weeks, and the goal is achieved! This same year, 1920, the Malden club helps with the work at the Childrens’ Recreational Club on Waitt’s Mount.
In 1921 the Club made a commitment to stand up and fight against the curtailment of mail carriers and deliveries in Malden. Then in 1922 Malden Rotary sponsors the first Grammer School Field Day at Ferryway Green. Malden Rotary’s strength in the community grows and so does Rotary’s reach in our region; Charles Keniston of the Malden Club organizes the Wakefield Rotary Club. The value of Rotary and Malden in particular begins to spread as evidenced by the quality of speakers looking to influence the world as Artcic Explorer Donald MacMillan visits the Club as one of the Clubs Luncheon speakers.
Malden Rotary focuses it attention on the community in 1923 when the provided 10 memberships to the Malden Y.M.C.A. for 10 worthy boys. The Club also sets its sights on expanding the regional reach of Rotary International as club member Frederick Prescott organizes the Somerville and Medford Clubs; making three new clubs organized by Malden in two years. Based on that success, Malden Rotarian William Halliday sponsored the Newton Club.