The map is decorated with simple line drawings of houses, which are numbered to correspond to a key that runs down the left and right borders, listing names of members and the buildings that served as the “headquarters,” probably for the tour. These include The Square House in Rye, the YMCA in Greenwich, and Bedford Green. Garden Clubs planted gardens for public buildings such as these as a community service. Presumably this map was intended to help members tour each other’s gardens during the annual meeting, with double lines indicating “Routes for the G.C.A.” and double dotted lines indicating “Other Good Roads.” Railroad lines are also shown.
Further illustrations include small clusters of buildings and churches in the towns, lighthouses in Long Island Sound, and whimsical touches such as a train on the railroad tracks, a horse-drawn coach on the Boston Post Road and golfers in front of the Westchester Biltmore. The state seals of New York and Connecticut are also pictured. The corners of the border are decorated with the Garden Club of America seal and stylized urns of flowers. Among the names of the members shown in the key are wives of prominent men such as the architect Cass Gilbert, Texaco founder Lewis Lapham, Republic Iron and Steel president John A. Topping, and William Fahnestock, a banker. As such the list shows members of high society of the 1920s with homes in that region.
The Garden Club of America was founded in 1913 as a women’s organization to foster knowledge and love of gardening and encourage civic plantings. Over time they also took on advocacy roles, lobbying for conservation efforts such as preserving the California redwood forests. Among the 12 founding clubs were the Bedford Garden Club in New York, shown on this map. The organization is still active today and celebrates its centennial in 2013.
“The Garden Club of America: a timeline.” The Garden Club of America. 2012. http://www2.gcamerica.org/about-history.cfm (5 November 2012).