Litchfield Garden Club records, 1913-2004
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Brief Description:

The Litchfield Garden Club records document an association that has been actively involved in town beautification efforts as well as local, regional and national conservation initiatives since the club was founded in Litchfield, Conn., in 1913. The collection consists of minutes, reports, correspondence, membership information, financial records, scrapbooks, photographs, newsletters, publicity materials, clippings, programs, yearbooks, awards, and other items.

On September 9, 1913, the initial meeting of the Litchfield Garden Club was held at the Lindens on North Street, home of the Misses Edith and Alice Kingsbury. Nine Litchfield women were present. Three others were interested, but were unable to attend.

Mrs. Samuel Gage led the meeting. Her sister spoke about how to form a garden club and also reported on a new national organization, The Garden Club of America. The ladies decided that day to form the Litchfield Garden Club.The first officers were Mrs. Gage, president; Mrs. Charles Curtis, vice president; Mrs. Henry Monroe, treasurer; and Miss Alice Kingsbury, secretary. The Executive Committee consisted of the four officers and meetings were held on Tuesdays every other week from May to October. Each member was to select a plant or plants for study and outside speakers would be invited to speak at meetings.

In June 1914, the Club voted to increase the membership of the club to 15 members. In the following months, membership rose to 25; honorary members were appointed; and the Club held its first fundraiser, collecting $250 at a Red Cross sale. The members learned about horticulture and gardening and accomplished their first civic project in 1915 in conjunction with the Village Improvement Society: $10 was spent for plantings at the Litchfield train station. In June 1915, Mrs. Gage affiliated the Litchfield Garden Club with The Garden Club of America, paying the first year’s club dues herself. During a meeting held on July 9, 1916, the members were asked to state whether they wished to accept luncheon invitations and become a social club or remain an active working organization. A vote was in favor of remaining an active working club. A constitution and bylaws were written and distributed. In 1937, the Club joined the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, a state organization under the aegis of what is now called National Garden Clubs, Inc. In 1966, the Club adopted a year-round schedule.

Throughout its history, the Litchfield Garden Club has been active in a range of projects. In 1915, the Club sponsored its first flower show in conjunction with the Litchfield Grange. In 1917, the Club became involved in war relief efforts. An official committee formed, The Garden Club Auxiliary to the Farm Bureau, cooperating in efforts to raise vegetables. Flower shows became yearly events and in 1919, the Club purchased the Lawn Club, renaming it The Playhouse, to be used by Litchfield as a permanent place of amusement in the village. By 1920, the Club was offering scholarship aid to students attending an agricultural school. In the 1920s and 1930s, activities included school gardens, plantings at the railroad station and library, the wild flower garden at the White Memorial Foundation, tree plantings, and the placement of wild flower posters in Litchfield and Torrington movie houses. In 1947, a flower show was held at the Tapping Reeve House where garden flowers and wildflowers were arranged in the 18th century manner. In 1955, plantings were done at the Oliver Wolcott Library, the Historical Society, and on traffic islands and books were donated to the Library, a practice that continues today. In 1957, the Club started its Civic Fund and raised $800 with a Kitchen Tour and Christmas Sale, the proceeds going for planting at the new Litchfield High School. By 1958, members were doing weekly flower arranging at the library and planting town window boxes. Priscilla Liggett and Eileen Greene FitzHugh studied trees for planting on North and South Streets and began the effort to get Litchfield designated as a Historic District, which was accomplished in 1959. Over the years, maples, birch, shadblow had been planted, and in 1960 the original 13 sycamores were replaced on North and South Streets. As elm trees succumbed to Dutch elm disease, the Club planted new elms. In the 1970s, the Club hired Visions, Inc. to develop a plan to restore the Litchfield town green. In 1975, the Club held its first house tour. In the 1980s, a club sweepstakes was established in horticulture and design and projects included landscaping at the Court House, planting daffodils with Connecticut Junior Republic boys and Brownies, a Middle School Outreach Program, installing benches and lighting for the green, planting trees at Center School and the Bantam Borough Hall, and planting trees and installing fencing at Community Field. In the 1990s, the Club began implementation of the Visions, Inc. plan. A tree inventory was taken and the Treescape Plan was born. A butterfly garden was designed and planted at the White Memorial Foundation. The America the Beautiful Foundation awarded the club a grant in recognition of the its community work. The Club continues to sponsor White Memorial Foundation classes and The Garden Club of America and Federated Scholarships.

Held at:
Litchfield Historical Society
7 South Street, P.O. Box 385
Litchfield, CT 6759
Phone: 860-567-4501
Fax: 860-567-3565
Email: archivist [at] litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org
Created by: Litchfield Garden Club
Volume: 25.2 Linear Feet
Acquired: 10/01/1971.
Subject Index
Gardening - Connecticut - Litchfield - Societies, etc.
Litchfield (Conn.)
Litchfield Garden Club
Photographs - Coloring
Women - Societies and clubs - Connecticut - Litchfield
Genres/Forms of Material
Correspondence
Ephemera
Financial records
Minutes
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Acquisition Notes: Litchfield Garden Club  Gift
PreferredCitation: Litchfield Garden Club records (1971-117-0), Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759