On August 2, 1923, 20 community-minded women met at what was then Royle School, to organize what they called the Darien Improvement Association. They continued to meet at members’ homes and their stated objective was to “keep the town neat, especially the public highways,” and “obtain receptacles for rubbage.” They soon expanded to influence the care of trees and the railroad embankment, to work for the home delivery of mail, to support the town library and to take a strong interest in the public schools. During these years, the first interest of the DCA was helping where there was a need. This philanthropic commitment continues today, as we celebrate 75 years of providing college scholarships to Darien High School graduates.
In 1929 the Darien Improvement Association was incorporated, and two years later, the organization formally changed its name to the Darien Community Association, Inc.
The DCA Thrift Shop was founded in October 1931 to supply local women much-needed employment during the Depression: washing and mending donated clothing, and repairing household articles, to be sold at very low prices. Today, over 50 volunteers run the Thrift Shop, located at 996 Post Road.
Meadowlands, our historic home and property on Middlesex Road, was purchased in 1950. It was originally built as a Victorian, but was redesigned to its current Regency style in 1933 by its fifth owner (for more information on our DCA Meadowlands history, click here).
Over the last 90+ years, the DCA has been guided by 37 different volunteer Presidents, whose wisdom and foresight has proven invaluable.
Other notable DCA milestones, facts and accomplishments include:
- 1929: first community programs and lectures
- 1938: first philanthropies: free milk to underprivileged children
- 1940: DCA pays for the first tennis courts in Darien
- 1948: DCA inaugurates the first town fireworks display
- 1949: Duo Piano Group formed
- 1952: DCA starts first story reading at the library
- 1956: Academic Lecture Series on Global Issues begins, with “Ideologies of Europe: European Trade”
- 1960: DCA is one of four local organizations to found the first Parkland Association, which becomes the Darien Land Trust; DCA members begin transcribing textbooks in Braille; DCA is ruled a tax-exempt charitable organization
- 1962: Art Lecture Series begins, with a focus on modern art, featuring lecturers from Yale University
- 1969: DCA organizes the first Darien Audubon Society; designates nearly four acres on the western side of Meadowlands as a bird sanctuary
- 1972: DCA sponsors Explorer Post 53 ambulance
- 1978: DCA pilots the first Darien Nature Center
- 1987: Meadowlands becomes enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places
- 1989: DCA sits on the task force and contributes to the development of the first Darien Depot teen center
- 1999: Café DCA opens at the Darien Sport Shop, to help raise funds for DCA scholarships; Executive Director position created
- 2011: Meadowlands voted “Best Wedding Reception Site” in Moffly Media’s Annual Best of the Gold Coast Connecticut
- 2012: Volunteers begin revitalizing the bird sanctuary: clearing invasive plants, planting native bushes, and establishing walking trails. The new DCA Bird Sanctuary officially opens in 2014.
- 2014: New catering structure established, providing rental clients a choice of caterer. New catered events coordinator position created.
- 2015: DCA Thrift Shop recognized with the Community Civic Award by the Darien Old Timers Athletic Association
- 2016: 75th anniversary of DCA scholarships celebrated at the Studio 54 – Revisited fundraiser; DCA scholarship awards include numerous new named scholarships sponsored by local families and businesses; new DCA Community Service Awards presented to four Darien High School students