75 Years WSFGC History
How It All Began: 1933-1957
Federated garden club activity began on September 28, 1933, at Frederick and Nelson Department Store in Seattle with an “extra nice” lunch for fifty cents. There were initially fifteen clubs. By January 3, 1934, the twenty-five charter clubs that formed Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs included Valley GC of Algona, South Tacoma, Spokane Floral, Floretum of Edmonds, Auburn, Issaquah, Better Gardens Club of Tacoma, Kent, Snoqualmie Valley, Roosevelt Heights of Seattle, City Wide of Seattle, Seahurst, Lockleven of Bellevue, Lake Forest Park, Amateur Gardeners of Seattle, Women‟s City Club of Seattle–Garden Dept., Three Tree Point, North Side Garden Club of Spokane, North End Flower of Seattle, Toppenish, Longview Women‟s Club–Garden Dept., Yakima, Enumclaw, Sumner, and Kirkland Women‟s Club–Garden Dept. (Not all clubs in existence at that time joined the Federation.)
In 1958, Historian Mrs. Harry S. Slater wrote, “In this, our twenty-fifth year, may we be a source of pride to… the… many individuals that worked so unselfishly to create our Federation.” The WSFGC Headquarters House was acquired on June 15, 1977. At that time the house was already 94 years old. It is the oldest house in the Beacon Hill area of Seattle, and is listed in both the Washington Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Buildings as the Turner-Koepf House. Built by E. A. Turner in 1883, the house was sold to Mr. Koepf, who moved it to its present site in 1906 to make way for a road. In 1916 the Jefferson Park Ladies Improvement Club acquired the house and turned it into a community clubhouse, saving the house from demolition. In 1977, when they could no longer maintain it, they deeded it to WSFGC. In 2008, Headquarters House became known as The Garden House.
1933 – 1936: Districts Develop After National Affiliation
At the State Federation‟s organization meeting September 28, 1933, the Bylaws and Constitution, prepared by Mrs. William Utter, were adopted and Mrs. F.S. (Edna) Greely was elected to serve asour first State President, from 1933-1934. The second WSFGC President was Mrs. Killian J. (Verna) Weiler. She was elected at the 2nd annual meeting at the Tacoma Y.W.C.A. and served two one-year terms, from 1934 to 1936. Most of 1934 was consumed by strengthening the structure of the organization. In early spring of 1935, a Judging School was held, with Mrs. J.T. Dowling as chairman. Registration was one dollar and lunch was forty cents. On March 29, 1935, the President of National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc., informed Mrs. Weiler that WSFGC had been accepted into National Council (now known as National Garden Clubs, Inc.). WSFGC had 50 member clubs by the spring of 1935.
1936 – 1938: Poems, Logo, Growth, and “Our Own Washington”
On September 29, 1936, WSFGC Convention Chairman and President-elect Glad Reusch opened the third Annual Convention at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle with a poem, “Salute to the Rhododendron,” which fittingly set the Washington State Flower and Federation Emblem (logo) to symbolize Beauty, the theme of the convention. The opening poem was from the first book of poems by members, published earlier in 1936. A second book was published in 1937. Mr. Frederic A. Baker had presented the Rhododendron emblem for the State Seal in 1934; however, they had just begun to use it in 1936. It appeared on the Directory cover at the 1936 Convention. In current WSFGC Bylaws, the logo is described as two concentric circles with the words “Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.” A truss of Rhododendron macrophyllum with leaves is in the center. The official seal or logo is used on all official stationery and on forms where feasible.
Through the years, needlepoint replicas have been lovingly made and these are on display at the WSFGC Headquarters House in Seattle. The current WSFGC logo was digitized and fine-tuned by Mary Stumph of Sherwood Forest Garden Club in Bellevue in 2001.
Glad Reusch was elected third President of WSFGC, serving from 1936 - 1937. Nine districts were established, each governed by a Director. The Districts were Snoqualmie, Director Mrs. First Johnson; Lewis and Clark, Director Mrs. M. B. Carten; Naches, Director Mrs. Wallace Wiley; Chelan, Director Mrs. Gilbert D. Brown; Capitol, Director Mrs. George H. Miller; Blue Mountain, Director Mrs. F.W. Fitspatrick; Chuckanut, Director Mrs. Bruce Nelson; Inland Empire, Director Mrs. D.E. Marston; and Peninsula, Director Mrs. Frank Fisher. Chelan voted to change their name toNorth Central. There were other changes as history progressed.
In 1936 there were 55 clubs and a total membership of 1,800. At the fourth Annual Meeting at the Winthrop Hotel, Tacoma, September 23 and 24, 1937, with President Reusch presiding, 39 new clubs were reported. Praise was given to Cecil Solly, Editor of Northwest Gardens, for his aid in publicizin Garden Club events in the State Newsletter, a monthly garden page in the magazine. A beautiful floral painting that Glad Reusch created hangs in Headquarters House. The Glad Reusch Corsage Award honors her memory. Our fourth President was Mrs. Gilbert D. Brown. She served from 1937 - 1938 and made us conservation conscious. At this time the Directors of Districts became Vice Presidents of the State
Federation by virtue of their local offices. The third book of poems by garden club members was published and available to the public. In 1938, Spokane became known as the “Lilac City,” and many choice lilacs were sent to the Arboretum at the University of Washington in Seattle. Also, the governor proclaimed the last week in April, “Garden Week.” “Our Own Washington,” written by Jessie Dee Emerick Cook of North End Flower Club in Seattle, was made the Federation‟s song. Mrs. Cook authorized the Federation to publicize and sell the song on a 50-50 basis. Years later, the details had been forgotten and history lost, so the song was again adopted and officially included in State Bylaws. Now it is truly our Federation‟s song.
1938 – 1941: Two-Year Terms for Officers, Junior Gardeners and WSFGC Scholarship Fund Established
The fifth WSFGC President, serving from 1938 to 1939, was Mrs. Bruce Nelson of Mt. Vernon (Chuckanut District). The State Meeting preceded the Pacific Coast Regional Meeting held on July 27-28, 1938 in Seattle. Mrs. Nelson recommended a two-year term of office for state officers and chairmen and the election of all garden club officers in the same month and year to establish a permanent record system and better communication.
Serving from 1939 - 1941 was Eva Cole Scott Simms (Mrs. Arthur Holmes), our sixth President. Born in Spalding, England, she and her husband were pioneers in the first Garden City Club in England, 1910. She was active in the campaign “Votes for Women” in London and lived in Winnipeg and Vancouver, B.C. before moving to Seattle in 1915. She was a charter member of North End Flower Club and an honorary member of the Anchorage Garden Club in Alaska.
In 1939, the Sixth Annual Meeting was held in Yakima and wildflowers (especially of Yakima) were the motif of the convention. The following spring the Federation sponsored conservation trips to the Olympic Mountains. Changes in the Bylaws provided for Junior Gardeners and a Chairman was appointed. By January of 1940, 65 members attended the Executive Board Meeting in Seattle. Two guests from Alaska were present. They were organizing clubs in the North and wished to affiliate with WSFGC until 10 clubs were organized, after which Alaska could have its own Federation.
In 1940, the Eighth Annual Meeting was held in Everett and Mrs. Simms was re-elected. Members voted to change the term of office for State and District officers from one to two years. In March 1941, the 22nd National Flower Show was held in the Civic Auditorium in Seattle, the first time this show was held on the West Coast. Walla Walla was the site of the Ninth Annual Meeting in 1941.
Our Federation was rapidly growing with 150 clubs and 3,000 members. “A Garden Prayer” by Ilse Tierny of West Seattle was adapted as a Federation Collect for inspiration. President Simms established a fund for scholarships, and there was discussion of hosting the National Convention in Seattle in 1942. However, after Pearl Harbor, the National Annual Meeting location was changed to Philadelphia, closer to the center of garden club population, to save on travel time and expenses. Mrs.Simms was an Honorary Life President of Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.
1938 - 1939:
The fifth WSFGC President, serving from 1938 to 1939, was Mrs. Bruce Nelson of Mt. Vernon (Chuckanut District). The State Meeting preceded the Pacific Coast Regional Meeting held on July 27-28, 1938 in Seattle. Mrs. Nelson recommended a two year term of office for state officers and chairmen and the election of all garden club officers in the same month and year to establish a permanent record system and better communication.
1939 - 1941:
Eva Cole Scott Simms (Mrs. Arthur Holmes), served as our sixth President. Born in Spalding England, she and her husband were pioneers in the first Garden City Club in England, 1910. She was active in the campaign "Votes for Women" in London and lived in Winnipeg and Vancouver, B.C. before moving to Seattle in 1915. She was a charter member of North End Flower Club and an Honorary member of the Anchorage Garden Club in Alaska.
In 1939, the Sixth Annual Meeting was held in Yakima and wildflowers (especially of Yakima) were the motif of the convention. The following spring the Federation sponsored conservation trips to the Olympic Mountains. Changes in the Bylaws provided for Junior Gardeners and a Chairman was appointed. By January of 1940, 65 members attend the Executive Board Meeting in Seattle. Two guests from Alaska were present. They were organizing clubs in the North and wished to affiliate with WSFGC until 10 clubs were organized and then Alaska could have its own Federation.
In 1940, the Eighth Annual Meeting was held in Everett and Mrs Simms was re-elected. It was voted to change the term of office for State and District officers from one to two years. In March 1941, the 22nd National Flower Show was held in the Civic Auditorium in Seattle, the first time this show was held on the West Coast. Walla Walla was the site of the Ninth Annual Meeting in 1941. Our Federation was rapidly growing with 150 clubs and 3,000 members. A Garden Prayers by Ilse Tierny of West Seattle was adapted as a Federation Collect. President Simms established a fund for scholarships and there was discussion of hosting the National Convention in Seattle in 1942. However, after Pearl Harbor, the National Annual Meeting location was changed to Philadelphia, closer to the center of garden club population, to save on travel time and expenses. Mrs. Simms was Honorary Life President of Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.
1941 - 1945: World War II Brings Changes for Garden Clubs
Mrs. Harry L. Stinson served from 1941 to 1943 as our seventh President. (In 1945, she was elected Director of Pacific Coast Region.) Per capita dues were increased to fifteen cents. Both Oregon and Washington Federations participated in the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in March 1942. The two Washington gardens (exhibited by Chuckanut and Snoqualmie Districts) received first awards. The Chuckanut garden was chosen for the front cover of the National Bulletin, now known asThe National Gardener. Our victory garden program was recognized as one of the best efforts in the nation and a Victory Garden Show was held in Sicks‟ Stadium, Seattle. By 1943, no Judges Council Meetings were held, because of time and expense, until the war effort subsided. Membership was now 5,099 and the WSFGC President was allowed $400 per term for expenses. Included in our war efforts were camouflage cuttings. Clubs had a goal of 1,250,000 bundles. Vegetables were home-grown and four Seattle-area radio stations carried weekly 15-minute programs by talented garden club members giving gardening tips. Once a month the programs were strictly “Victory Gardens.” It was mentioned how lucky we were, as radio stations could sell this time for $37.50 per 15 minutes. The 1943 Convention was held for one day only, July 25, 1943. Mrs. Walton Howard served as our eighth President from 1943-1945, and in 1945 she was elected second vice president of National Council of State Garden Clubs(now NGC, Inc.) Her term was filled with War Bond Drives (we entered the national contest), Savings Stamps and Victory Gardens. The twelfth Annual Meeting was held in Seattle July 12, 1944. There were now 174 clubs and 5,313 garden club members. War Bond sales for the term were $147,853 with $61,750 collected between April and July. The Federation also bought emergency hospital units at $30,000 each to help equip the armed forces. President Howard received a Certificate of Merit from the U.S. Treasury Department for patriotic cooperation rendered on behalf of the War Finance Program. Our “Christmas Project,” whereby the Federation paid for phone calls home from soldiers in the city at Christmas time, won National Council recognition, as did the Bond Sales. Community support was foremost in garden club members‟ minds.
1945 - 1949:
Postwar Expansion and Peacetime Activities Strengthen the Federation Mrs. John Morris Holcomb (Knight) served from 1945 to 1947 as our ninth WSFGC President. By September of 1945, there were 4,386 members and 143 clubs in good standing. The treasury balance was $624, not enough to pay some of the outstanding bills. A statewide membership drive resulted in the Inland Empire District returning to the Federation and many clubs in the Lewis and Clark area became federated. Fifty-four new clubs joined the first year, increasing the membership to 6,000 members and 200 clubs. Mrs. G. A. Campbell, Organizing Secretary, was most effective in securing “war-time dropout clubs” for the Federation. Judging Schools were begun in Seattle (March 1946) and Tacoma (March 1947) and attendance included garden club members, university students, professional horticulturists and artists. Because the demand for floral design teachers could not be met, a State Holiday Show was established for educational purposes. The proceeds from those early shows made it possible to activate a scholarship program at the University of Washington (a $50 scholarship was awarded). The 1947 Holiday Show expenses were $170 and the ending checkbook balance had risen to $2,829. The first National ribbon for Flower Show Achievement was presented to the Seattle Chrysanthemum Society for their 1945 show. The Hemlock was voted the official Federation State Tree. The 1946-1947 yearbook (Directory) was completely paid for by advertising. In 1947, the Bylaws were changed to make the Corresponding Secretary and the Parliamentarian appointive offices. With photographs from the Christmas Show held in the Olympic Hotel (now The Four Seasons/Fairmont Olympic), a book titled “Ideas for Christmas Decorations” was published and sold. It received a National Award in 1948.
Mrs. Harry D. Hayes served from 1947-1949 as our tenth President. The May Garrett Hayes Scholarship is named for her. Due to the efforts of the Federation, the legislature named the Rhododendron the official state flower of Washington. Highway 99 was designated a Blue Star Highway. Flower Show Schools continued in Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. The WSFGC gave $100 to help save the California Redwoods. Donors gave to the Seeds for Peace Program. The Federation grew to 375 clubs and 12,000 members. The scholarships offered were increased to $350: one at the University of Washington, Seattle and one at Washington State College, Pullman.
1949 – 1957:
Conservation Promoted, Smoke Signals Born, WSFGC Grows to 16,000 Members, Mrs. Boyd Andreus (subsequently Mrs. R. C. Markille) served from 1949 to 1951 as our 11th WSFGC President. Installed at the WSFGC Convention held on the WSC Campus at Pullman from June 26-29, 1949, she believed in Garden Therapy and was an avid gardener and member of Olympia Garden Club. In 1950, a system of teaching conservation in schools was formulated with the cooperation of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mrs. Pearl Wanamaker. An essay contest was launched with a $25 prize in the District contests and $50 prize at state level. The contest theme was “Conservation, Our Lifeline.” A guide for judging yearbooks (by Mrs. Philip Bardon) was distributed to the Districts and 137 books (including one from Alaska) were judged. Two Blue Star Memorial Highway Markers were installed (Peace Arch Park in Blaine, and Vancouver, WA) at a cost of $92.50. Judging Schools in Tacoma and Spokane were completed, and plans were made to enroll 4-H clubs in Junior Club work. A National Certificate of Merit was awarded for our booklet, “Ideas for Christmas Decorations.” Scholarships were increased to two at the University of Washington and two at Washington State College, each $125, totaling $500. The Willow Goldfinch was named the State Bird by the Washington State Legislature in 1951. WSFGC had 13,256 members and 412 clubs.
Mrs. J. Gordon Gose (Violet Nevitt Gose) served as the 12th WSFGC President from 1951-1953. The yearbook guide was inspiration to a National yearbook guide. The 1951 Christmas show in the Spanish Ballroom of the Olympic Hotel (now Four Seasons/Fairmont) in Seattle had proceeds of $865 and attendance of 3,036. It was chaired by Helena Mairs. There was now nearly $2,000 in the scholarship fund, and 290 club members attended the 1952 convention. The Kitsap clubs requested permission to form a District, and Cross Sound District was approved to start in October 1953 with Mrs. John S. Kilgore as Director. At the 21st Convention, Ann Balerud told of the first statewide workshop on Conservation and Outdoor Education, sponsored by the State Office of Instruction. Idaho was about to separate from WSFGC to create an Idaho Federation. A State Life Membership category was created.Violet Gose went on to serve as Pacific Region Director from 1953 to 1955 and National President from 1963 to 1965.
Mrs. Myron L. Harmon (Marian) served as the 13th WSFGC President from 1953 to 1955. The State Life Membership fee was set at $50, with proceeds going to the WSFGC Scholarship Fund. First to be honored with these memberships were Mrs. Bardon (14th WSFGC President) and Mrs. Weiler (second WSFGC President). The state finances had grown to $12,147, with over $7,000 in the Scholarship Fund. The first State Speakers List (now our Program Guide) was compiled, printed and distributed to the Districts. Our Directory was made into a Handbook. A President‟s Fund was established, five cents per member, for expenses of the office. A $10 fee was charged for use of our membership list. A WSFGC Horticulture essay contest was held. Spring and Fall Program Tours (now called state visits) made the officers and program committee accessible to the members. Notable during President Harmon‟s term was the creation of the Cascade and Evergreen Districts in 1955.
Mrs. Philip L. (Margery) Bardon served as our 14th President, from 1955-1957. At the 23rd Convention in Everett, where she was installed, an impressive memorial for our Organizing President, Mrs. F. S. (Edna) Greeley, was given by Mrs. Gilbert D. Brown, who succeeded Mrs. Greeley as Honorary Life President of WSFGC. Mrs. Bardon‟s objectives were 1) organization, 2) education and 3) expansion. She said, “Our Federation is now 4th in size in the National Council. We have 12 Districts… 627 Clubs and 16,000 members.” President Bardon did a series of TV and radio programs during her term over KVOS, Bellingham. President Bardon was a speaker on the President‟s Panel at the 1957 National Convention in Miami, speaking about “Conservation, Outdoor Education in Washington.” This resulted in many queries from other states. Chairman Ann Balerud held four conservation workshops in colleges and universities; 19 scholarships were provided by clubs. Mrs. Joe E. Wolff had six Flower Show Schools in progress in spring of 1956. All were successfully completed. Elinor Zappalo and Helena Mairs chaired the two Holiday Shows during President Bardon‟s term. In 1956, the Margery V. Bardon District Publication Award was created. It was the first WSFGC Past President Award. She also established our State Publication, Smoke Signals, naming it and serving as Managing Editor for two years. Mrs. Bardon was instrumental in securing Headquarters House in Seattle for WSFGC and served as first chairman of the Headquarters House Board of Trustees. She also was Headquarters House Manager and Rental Agent for two years. Later, Margery served for many years as WSFGC Historian, and wrote a history of the Federation‟s first fifty years: 50 Golden Years, 1933-1983.
75 Years of WSFGC History was written by Lana Finegold, WSFGC Historian and 37th State President, based on 50 Golden Years, 1933-1983, compiled by State Historian and 14th State President Margery Bardon, and from Smoke Signals, WSFGC Directories, and other state records and reports. Thanks also to Teri Seitz, past Smoke Signals editor, for formatting and editorial assistance.