The Garden Club originated in 1933 at the Placid Lake home of Mrs. Milton Bernstein who became its first president. Mrs. George Owens, vice-president; Mrs. H.H. Epstein; secretary and Mrs. Henry Uihlein completed the slate. The Club’s primary purpose was the improvement of village and lake shore property barren of shrubs or flowers.
By 1937, the 150-member club sponsored elaborate, vegetable and flower shows using the entire floor of the Olympic Arena. It also joined the Federated Garden Clubs of NY State and the National Council of State Garden Clubs. Except for the war years, this original group continued to sponsor flower arranging classes and held annual flower competitions. The Club split proceeds between the Lake Placid Hospital and its own civic fund.
This group painted the library, planted its grounds and installed window boxes and shutters. It also filled 28 window boxes at the school to be tended by the children there. Members voted to plant the Arena grounds with trees, shrubs and flowers. Future projects included plantings near the Chubb River at the village pumping station and electric plant and donating money for several years to establish and landscape a village park on Main St. (today’s Mid’s Bandshell Park).
War years and lack of man (and woman) power caused the Club to remain inactive from 1946-51 before Mrs. Luke Perkins brought it alive again to have meetings all year long in 1953. The opening and showing of gardens at Placid Lake camps was renewed, library was replanted after construction and flower shows continued.
The later half of the 20th century and start of the 21st brought dramatic change: Now, many of us have jobs or volunteer work, some still have young people living at home. Some remain single, others are divorced or widowed. Few have help at home or in the garden. Leisure is at a premium. Our lives are quite different from our forebearers. As our roles evolved, so did the Garden Club. Having plenty to do locally, we withdrew from state and national affiliations in the 1980s. We no longer have time to sponsor judged flower shows with exacting rules. We are more interested in community service with a focus on beautifying community gardens along with our own. We recognize and award outstanding local gardens. We plant and tend various public gardens, pick up roadside litter and have workshops for ourselves and residents at Elderwood of Uihlein.
The Club educates the public with interpretive panels we installed on the Lakeshore Trail of the Brewster Peninsula. We provide environmental summer scholarships for middle school students. A section of the public library downstairs is dedicated to gardening with books and information.
Memberships are predicated only on ability to pay $30 dues. We are open to all genders, religions, races and ages. A desire to learn something new, share information with each other and a sense of humor are also helpful.
Monthly meetings with lectures, workshops, lunch or dinner run each month from April-Dec. Other than memberships, we earn additional funds through floral calendars, note cards, garden tours, fashion shows and raffles.
Today’s Club continues as an integral and effective part of this region’s vitality.
Contact current president for 4-page, detailed history of early years from 1933-1954 by Mary MacKenzie, former Town and Village Historian.
@2023 Garden Club of Lake Placid