On June 2, 1931 Mrs. A. P. Meyer held a meeting in her home with Mrs. Harold Nomer, the Misses Langenheim and 26 of their Fox Chapel friends and founded Fox Chapel Garden Club. In addition to their interest in gardening, these women wanted to have input in the planning and preserving of the Fox Chapel district, which at the time was solely led by men. The borough itself wasn’t incorporated until 1934. Until 1942, FCGC was the only garden club in our area.
By 1933 the Club felt that the entire Pittsburgh community would benefit from a centralized location that would obtain and disseminate gardening information. Led by FCGC founding members Mrs. Harold Nomer and Mrs. A. P. Meyer, and with other existing garden clubs and Pittsburgh City Council, they rented a building in Schenley Park. In 1935 the first Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center opened serving ninety garden clubs. In June 1948 the Center moved to its current location in the former carriage house of the R. B. Mellon estate. From its beginning in 1935 until 1953, the Center had only two Presidents, Mrs. Nomer and Mrs. John Oliver, both of whom were FCGC members. Proceeds from the FCGC booth at May Market helped to support the Garden Center for many years.
In 1935, FCGC sponsored the creation of a master plan for the Fox Chapel Borough drawn by landscape architect Ezra Stiles. This plan led to the development of the Trillium Trail and also to the formation of the Squaw Run Area Watershed Association. In 1946, a 33-acre track on Squaw Run came up for sale. Thankfully, FCGC member Ruth Boyles and her husband Dick Boyles bought the property, holding it until FCGC and the Fox Chapel District Association worked out the details enabling the Borough to purchase what is now the Trillium Trail for Wildlife and Flower Preservation in 1948. For this project FCGC received the highest award given by the National Council of State Garden Clubs – the Green Ribbon Conservation Award.
In the 1950’s garden therapy programs were led by FCGC members at Leech Farm and the Veterans’ Hospital on Delafield Road. In 1975 a therapy program was initiated at Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital, now HealthSouth. The program continued for 32 years. In 1996 FCGC created an outdoor garden designed by FCGC member Shelley Stoecklein at Harmarville Rehabilitation Center to be used by therapists and patients.
Our “two Ruths" — Ruth Boyles and Ruth Scott — influenced our club in beginning environmental presentations in the elementary schools, and later educational walks on the Trillium Trail, Blue Run Trail, and Emmerling and Salamander Parks. In 1949 we awarded a scholarship to Beulah Frey, a local biology teacher, to attend conservation training. In 1969 the FCGC joined with the Fox Chapel School District to develop a K-12 environmental curriculum.
Currently our Conservation and Environmental Watch programs inform our membership of important environmental and conservation issues and coordinate recycling efforts, including our very successful tennis shoe recycling program.
In 1998 at the home of FCGC President Nancy Vincett, a fundraising idea was born. That December the inaugural FCGC Holiday Auction was launched, now known as Glitter & Glow. Due to its huge success Glitter & Glow quickly replaced other fundraising efforts of selling annual flowers, pies, etc. at Pre-sale. This major club-wide event as well as the Annual Annual Adventure at Brenckle’s Farms and Greenhouses and the generous support of our community enables FCGC to financially support a wide range of community programs that fit within our mission.
FCGC founded Community Gardenfest in 2011 as a grassroots local garden market in conjunction with what is now the Lauri Ann West Community Center. FCGC has a booth each year which sells perennials that have been dug and gifted from our members’ gardens. Proceeds from these sales benefit the Community Center. In just a few years, the Community Gardenfest has grown to be the largest community event that the Lauri Ann West Community Center holds.
We continue as… gardeners, preservers, champions, conservors, partners, supporters, recyclers, launchers, educators, students and humble stewards.