The April 4, 1921 meeting of the Saginaw Woman’s Club was held in the Auditorium of Saginaw High School. Two papers were presented focusing on Saginaw landscapes and gardens. The lectures were illustrated by about 100 photographs taken by Miss Florence Walz, a member of the club. Recently, while cataloguing a collection of archival material from this organization in the Castle Museum’s collection, we discovered an album of images which are almost certainly the photographs used in these lectures.
Saginaw has a rich history of ornamental gardening. However, gardens are ever-changing and transitive. Without constant care they soon vanish. More than 25 Saginaw gardens are featured in this album. Of the magical worlds preserved in this book, only the C.L. Ring Garden, now the grounds of the Saginaw Art Museum, is still recognizable.
History of The Saginaw Woman’s Club
Members of this committee focused their attention on the study of gardening, promoting community beautification and education. Also, a 1925 photograph of its members at Colonial garden party held at the home of Mrs. R.H. Arnold, 116 N. 6th Street suggests, they knew how to enjoy their gardens. Starting in 1920, the club started holding flower shows and according to the organizations history “This department (garden) sold so many peony bushes in 1924, that the city council named the peony the Saginaw flower.”
The Home Culture Club was formed in 1892 and a few years later changed its name to the Saginaw Woman’s Club. Their history records that members devised “a plan for a course of study by which they might be mutually benefited” and would be “educational, practical and progressive.” The organization thrived and by the second half of the 20th century boasted several hundred members and carefully structured “departments.” One of the most active of these was the garden department.
Although the club no longer exists, for most of the 20th century it was a prominent and successful part of Saginaw and the club’s members were actively involved in the community.
Saginaw Woman's Garden Club Department - The Photo Album
The photographs in the album below are small format contact prints. These negatives would have been used to print lantern slides. In Kodak sales literature of the period, the company notes “to make lantern slides on Velox Slide Film is simplicity itself. The film is handled almost exactly like Velox, the simplest and surest of photographic papers.”
Miss Florence Walz was an amateur photographer who captured these photos. The images are clear and nicely framed. Careful study often reveals fascinating garden details and sometimes a proud gardener is included in the frame.
We wish to thank the following people for their assistance in identifying the locations of the gardens included in this book.
The staff of the History and Genealogy Collection at Hoyt Library