About the Corvallis Rose Society
In the beginning . . .
The Men's Garden Club (MGCC) was an outgrowth of interest shown by a group of Corvallis businessmen and members of the College staff, according to John Burtner, Editor of the club bulletin "The Garden Gate,” Bol. 1, No. 1, September 1, 1940. This group was called together by L. R. Briethaut for a luncheon meeting on April 22 in Wagner’s Restaurant where a temporary organization was formed. A total of 34 men were approved as members who signed to affiliate with the Men’s Garden Clubs of America. The national organization had started on February 28, 1928 in Chicago. The MGCC by September 1940 had rapidly grown to 82 members.
The members’ early interest in roses was demonstrated with the first informal Rose Show held at a dinner meeting of the MGCC on June 2, 1940. The first formal Rose Show occurred on June 10, 1941 at a dinner meeting on the Mezzanine floor of the Benton Hotel. Paul Miller was chairman, and was assisted by A.G.B. Bouquet, Byron Bradshaw, John Milbrath and D.C. Mumford. A close linkage between the CRS and MGCC is noted in that each of these men served as president of both of these groups in later years.
Attention was drawn to the beginning of the CRS by Paul Miller, editor of the society’s bulletin “The Bonnie Briar Bush,” issued during the twentieth anniversary in 1975. He quoted from an earlier report by the CRS historian, Mrs. Ev Niederfrant, taken from the society’s 'Scrapbook': “For several years, the many Corvallis rose growers shared their prize roses with the Men’s Garden Club. As the interest in rose growing increased, the desire to be associated with a rose society grew. As a result, Mrs. Nat Schoen, who at that time was District Director of the American Rose Society, met with a group of rose lovers in the Memorial Union Building of Oregon State College on May 11, 1955. A committee of these, namely D. Curtis Mumford, Herman Scullen and Mrs. Carolyn Winger, were appointed to draw up a proposed Constitution and By-Laws. This was presented at the next meeting. Officers elected for 1955 were: President, John Milbrath; Vice-president, Harold Lehnert; Secretary, Mrs. Vera Wells; and Treasurer, Joan Patterson. From this time on, records of meetings and Rose Shows will be found in the Minute Book of the Corvallis Rose Society.” There were 54 charter members of the Society. Today, Jim Harper is the only remaining active member of the group.
The History from 1955 to 2011
The Corvallis Rose Society (CRS) was chartered on May 18, 1955 by the American Rose Society (ARS). Soon after, it was offered 50 rose plants by Howard’s of Hemet, California to start a municipal rose garden. A group of CRS members consulted with the Corvallis City Council about the feasibility of such a project, and a committee from the society presented the idea to the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department (CPRD). It was approved as a worthy project, and Avery Park was chosen as the site. The CPR cleared the land, installed the irrigation system, and prepared the area for planting roses; the CRS supplied and planted the roses, provided technical advice, and did the pruning. This cooperative effort has continued to date.
The CRS celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2005.
This was a time for the society to honor the past, confront the present, and embrace the future. In anticipating possible improvements in the Rose Garden in Avery Park an advisory group was starting consisting of Emery Castle, Marie Flamme, Jim Harper, Stan Miles, Frank Cochrane, Don Powell, and Bill Proebsting. Marie Flamme sent a letter to Julee Conway, Director CPRD, that outlined the society’s ten-year plan for improvements of the Rose Garden in Avery Park. The updated landscape plan included paver walks throughout for handicapped access; a large rose arbor distinctly marking the garden entrance, and remodeling the gazebo in the Memorial Garden, as well as building a large gazebo centrally located in the garden. Director Conway, in a letter to Marie Flamme dated December 21, 2005, pointed out acceptance of the landscape plan would need mutual approval by CPRD and CRS. Subsequently the CRS submitted a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project proposal in June, 2006. This proposal and other following received CPRD financial support.
The Corvallis Rose Garden in Avery Park is one of 139 gardens nationwide that display the best new rose varieties introduced each year. The collection of roses in the garden is updated in a continuous process. Over the years from 1955 to 2010 the following individuals have given generously of their time and talents in serving as the chairperson for the Rose Garden in Avery Park Committee: Paul Miller, Lee Allen, Bill Somppi, Frank Cochrane, and Stan Miles.