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It’s Our History: The early years of the Garden Club of Lake Placid

May 7, 2013
Lake Placid News

Excerpted from a researched report by Mary MacKenzie, former Town and Village Historian

The Garden Club of Lake Placid was formed on September 10, 1933 at the home of Mrs. Wilton L. (Edna) Bernstein at Red Gables on Lake Placid. At the organization meeting the following officers were elected: Mrs. Milton L. Bernstein, president; Mrs. George C. Owens, vice-president; Mrs. H.H. Epstein, secretary; and Mrs. Henry Uihlein, treasurer. Mrs. Raymond C. Prime was named membership chairman and Mrs. Louis Hammer, horticultural chairman.

The object of the club was the general improvement of village and lake shore property, and the members planned to concentrate on the improvement of property barren of shrubbery or flowers.

In 1934 the club sponsored a competition among merchants to beautify their business properties on Main Street and awarded prizes.

By 1935 the club was in full swing. At a meeting on July 1, 1935, plans were formulated for annual garden competitions to be sponsored and judged by the Garden Club and were open to all-year residents only. Those employing gardeners were not allowed to compete. For two days in August 1935 the club staged its first annual Flower Show and occupied the main floor of the Olympic Arena. There was a program of entertainment including tap and ballroom dancing and solos by vocal artists. Music was provided by the Stevens House orchestra. There were also numerous classes of competition. $1,000 was netted from the show which was donated to the Lake Placid Hospital.

At the annual meeting on September 23, 1935, Mrs. Bernstein reported the membership had increased over the past year from 50 to 150. In 1936 membership increased again to 199.

In 1937 the club became a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State. A third annual Flower Show was staged with proceeds of $915 going to the Lake Placid Hospital. The club also painted the Library in 1937, planted its grounds and installed window boxes and shutters.

In 1938 the gardens of a number of members on Lake Placid were open for inspection during the entire summer. A three-day annual flower show was held at the arena. Two summer houses were provided by Lamb Lumber Co. and local contractor George Bols. The Lake Placid Club had a wild garden about a running stream and an Adirondack lean to. Gross receipts were $1024 and the net proceeds were divided between the Lake Placid Hospital and the Garden Club's fund of civic improvement.

The flower and vegetable garden competitions were again held, and the planning of the Arena grounds was continued. The club had developed since its organization in 1933 into one of the largest and strongest of its kind in the State. There were now 69 contributing and 211 active members.

In 1939 and 1940 the Flower Show was not held because the ice season at the Arena had been extended and there was no extra space. Only the flower and vegetable garden competitions were held. In 1940 Mrs. Luke L. Perkins was made a Ddirector. During the winter of 1940-41 the club filled 28 window boxes to be tended by the children at school.

The gardens of members on Lake Placid were again open for inspection in the summer of 1941, and courses in flower arranging were sponsored. The usual flower and vegetable garden competitions were held. In August of 1941 the annual Flower Show was staged in the Lake Placid Central School gymnasium. There were 88 classes in 21 groups. A miniature fish hatchery was set up by Royal Scott of Morrisonville, consisting of live trout in a pool beside a garden and flower house. There was a display of vases and containers, and flower and garden films were shown. The children's class had 100 exhibits. Started three years before to develop the interest of Lake Placid children in flowers, the class had had a phenomenal growth. $125 of the proceeds were contributed to the purchase of the new Main Street village park on Mirror Lake, and the club planned to spend the balance of the proceeds on landscaping the park. Property owners along Main Street were encouraged to improve the land at the rear of their places by personal visits by club members.

In 1941 the club also made plantings at the Library, and small evergreens purchased by the club from the Conservation Department were planted around the village pumping station and on the Chubb River near the village electrical plant.

Save for the encouragement and judging of Victory vegetable gardens in 1943, the club was inactive completely during the war years of 1943, 1944, and 1945. The club remained completely inactive from 1946 through 1951.

The Garden Club of Lake Placid was reorganized on October 16, 1952 at a meeting held in the town hall. Officers elected were Mrs. Luke L. Perkins, Mrs. H. Lutcher Brown, Mrs. Robert Isham, Mrs. Silas Donvan, and Mrs. Henry Uihlein. Mrs. Kenneth Stevens was named program chairman. Membership dues were $1 for adults, 50 for juniors under 16, and $5 for associate memberships.

Beginning in 1953 membership was reported at 110. Meetings were held all year round and the opening and showing of gardens at Lake Placid camps was renewed. The club replanted the Library yard which had been ripped up for building operations, and also planted shrubs in the rear. An informal Flower Show was held in August at the Signal Hill Club, limited to arrangement classes.

The Garden Club of Lake Placid is highly active today and sponsors the annual Village Clean Up Day held in April.

At the Lake Placid Public Library, TheBackyard Composting Interpretive Site was built in 2007 as a joint venture of the LPPL, Cornell Cooperative Extension Essex County Master Gardener Volunteers and the Lake Placid Garden Club. The compost bins are used for all of the library garden and yard trimmings and are a teaching site for lake friendly gardening practices. The library staff, visitors and local restaurants also add to the compost. Interpretive signs are above each bin explaining the composting process.

The LP-NEHS History Museum opens Memorial Day weekend with a new photographic exhibit based on the Stedman and Moses (formerly Barry) Collection of glass plate negatives. Please look for information on our opening reception and corresponding lecture series!



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