Several groups also affected by fire

Grant Thiessen played only a six-month part in the history of the Woman's Club of Huntington Beach's landmark building at 420 10th St.

But when the 101-year-old structure burned down nearly two weeks ago, he found himself in the same position as the club's leaders: lacking a home for his group and awaiting word from the insurance company.

Thiessen, pastor of Experience Church, rented the Woman's Club every Sunday for half a year before a fire destroyed the property April 30.

After the smoke cleared, the Huntington Beach resident went back to leading services in his home, and he and his 50-member congregation are seeking another permanent meeting spot.

"We had a good partnership," Thiessen said about the Woman's Club. "We helped them and they helped us. It was a good fit for us."

The structure, built in 1910 and used by the Woman's Club since 1916, hosted not only the club's meetings but also wine tastings, wedding receptions, classes and other functions, according to Vice President Elaine Craft. In addition, three groups — Experience Church, the Noetic Society and a bridge club — rented it out weekly.

It was the affordable rent, Craft said, that made the venue so popular.

"There weren't many places to meet, really, in the city that you could rent out at a nominal fee, and this was rented out for about $50 to $100, depending on what the activity was," she said. "So it was greatly used."

Experience Church, which is affiliated with the Church of God in Tennessee and began in 2008, operated out of the Edison Community Center and other locations before moving to the Woman's Club in November.

When the building burned, the church lost its video and sound equipment as well as a portable coffee bar, Thiessen said.

Now, the church is waiting to hear back from the Woman's Club's insurance company about whether it can reclaim any money for the items. Thiessen said the church had not taken out its own insurance policy on them.

Arnie DiCiccio, the head of the clubhouse's Tuesday night bridge club, has moved his group to a facility in Costa Mesa. His group started in 1974, he said, and moved from one location to another before settling at the Woman's Club about four years ago.

DiCiccio said he might seek another permanent home for his group, but wanted to test the Costa Mesa location first.

"I have to kind of leave all the options open," he said.

The Noetic Society, described on its website as a nonprofit philosophy group based on Socratic teachings, did not return a call seeking comment.

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