In 1936, the Garden Club of Georgia began a fund to create a living memorial to the twelve founders of the Ladies' Garden Club of Athens, the first garden club in America, organized in 1891.
After the establishment of the Founders Garden it was only a matter of time before the garden club acquired the old smokehouse for a living museum to the twelve original garden club ladies. It was restored and furnished in keeping with the period of the house. Historical mementos, pictures, and a painting depicting the historical first meeting of a garden club are among the most treasured items in the museum.
The Garden Club of Georgia has been privileged to be a part of the fascinating historical tapestry of our former Headquarters House. This charming old rose-brick, Greek Revival house was built in 1857 and was restored by the Garden Club to pristine splendor. Prior to our taking possession in 1961, the house had served as a residence for University of Georgia professors, a dining hall, quarters for the biological sciences department, a residence for the first Dean of Women, a chapter house for the Phi Mu Sorority, and headquarters for the Landscape Architecture Program beginning in 1938.
The stone pavers in the front courtyard (facing Lumpkin Street) were rescued by the late Hubert Bond Owens, Dean of the University of Georgia School of Landscape Architecture. The irrepressible Dean Owens brought the cobblestones to the Headquarters House as they were removed from an Athens street resurfacing project. In 1991, to celebrate their Centenary, the Ladies Garden Club of Athens placed a time capsule under a circular design of pavers in the front courtyard. Founded in 1891, the Ladies Garden Club was the first garden club organized in America. This capsule will be unearthed and opened in the year 2091!
Now that we have relocated to our new Headquarters House, our former facility will be utilized once again by the College of Environment and Design of the University of Georgia. How pleased our beloved Dean Hubert B. Owens would be! Leaving behind a legacy for the future, Garden Club of Georgia members will always maintain an involved presence and love for the House and surrounding gardens which were our home for so many years.
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