I’m new to Chattanooga, and I’ve been amazed at how beautiful the city is. I’ve joined a local gardening club because I want to be part of continuing to beautify the city, and I’ve learned there’s a bit of a history to it. Can you tell me more?
You are correct! There is ample history of beautifying the city – a plethora of garden clubs were organized by many prominent ladies in the first half of the 1900s. Among others, there were the Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club (est. 1912), The Garden Club of Lookout Mountain (est. 1916), the Garden Club of Signal Mountain (est. 1921), and the Highland Park Garden Club (est. 1925). Clubs based on certain flowers were also established, including the Chattanooga Rose Society (est. 1932) and the Chattanooga African Violet Society (est. 1947).
Besides being a social club, these garden clubs were extremely active in the community, working to better Chattanooga through not just beautification but also cultivation, conservation, and preservation. They planted city gardens and landscaped road-side beds. They were active in schools with junior garden clubs, teaching children about nature and the importance of conservation. They visited nursing homes, hospitals, and orphanages, bringing beauty with them. These garden clubs also dabbled in wildlife conservation and preservation of historic sites. Members of The Garden Club of Lookout Mountain were principals in the restoration of Cravens House on the side of Lookout Mountain.
These clubs hosted national flower shows, held local competitions, and were connected to statewide and national garden networks, like The Garden Club of America and the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs (TFGC). The TFGC was actually established in Chattanooga in 1926, when delegates and representatives from 17 of Tennessee’s 34 garden clubs met at The Read House.
Many of these garden clubs are still in existence today and now include men and women. They’ve done so much to make our city a more beautiful place!
Hope this helps!
Resident History Hound