Fort Mill Garden Club celebrates 75 years

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comSeptember 11, 2013 

JOHN MARKS

— Members believe the first afternoon meeting of the Fort Mill Garden Club was held on the front porch to escape the heat. Last week, with cooler temperatures inside, members only ventured onto the porch long enough for a picture.

Turns out more than the weather changes in 75 years.

“To me it’s awesome to be a part of something that happened 75 years ago,” said Gerrie Merritt, who passed the presidency at the Sept. 3 meeting to Betty Thomas.

Eight ladies first met at the gray house at the top of Main Street in 1938. Founding members planted trees, worked at Confederate Park, decorated town roadways and gave gifts to establish a library and town festival. They started a garden plot on Main Street that current members maintain at the Post Office just down the street.

The group has 12 members, who come by invitation. Group members say they’re part of the oldest garden club in the area and that it helped establish at least six other clubs.

Last week, members considered those founders and how different their lives must have been, even to the dues that have skyrocketed all the way to $10.

“One thing they discussed, they set a fee,” Thomas said of the first meeting. “Every month they paid a fee – 10 cents. They just thought that was terrible, but they still passed it.”

Club accounts show some members thought that initial price too high. Members joked last week that some today might offer similar complaints. But the group isn’t entirely looking to the past. They’re planning a float in the Christmas parade this year. This past weekend they provided information on their group for display at the Fort Mill History Museum.

Merritt believes gardens aren’t the only things that grew these past 75 years, and that those founding members would enjoy seeing what they started reach full bloom.

“I think they’re very proud of what we have become,” she said.

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