Mary's Involvement with the Community
While Burk was focused on his business pursuits, Mary threw herself into philanthropy and cultural enrichment of Fort Worth, then still known as a cowtown, and for the rowdiness of areas like Hell's Half Acre. Like many upper-class women of the time, Mary was active in her community and donated her time, treasure, and talent to many causes around the city. She was particularly interested in art, literature, and history.
Mary was a charter member of the Women's Wednesday Club, one of the oldest clubs in Fort Worth, founded in 1889. The organization assisted with the city's cultural development, sponsoring the Fort Worth Library Association, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association, and the Fort Worth Art Association. Mary served as the club's director of the club in 1892 and remained an active member until 1909. As a Texas delegate, she even traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to attend the Eighth Biennale of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Women's Wednesday Club Minutes, 1895-1896
Women's Wednesday Club Minutes, 1909-1910
The Women’s Wednesday Club frequently held poetry readings and presentations, to which Mary often contributed. She led discussions and gave presentations on Romanticism in poetry, the works of Alexandre Dumas fils, Shakespeare’s plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King John, and Julius Caesar.
As a supporter of culture in Fort Worth, Mary also served as president of the Carnegie Library from 1901-1902 and gave money to the library to purchase artwork for the library gallery.
Mary was actively involved with the Fort Worth Art Association, which later became the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Mary was a charter member of the group which formed in 1910. Mary contributed her porcelain china to an early exhibition, lent paintings in 1913 and 1915, and gave a donation of $100 in 1913.