History of Club



The creation of the River Oaks Garden Club was the inspiration of founding member, Louise Stevenson. She persuaded her neighbor, Hennie Cottingham to join her in establishing some sort of organization to solve the great need of civic beautification in the River Oaks area. The first official meeting of 29 members was held on October 27, 1927 and marked the beginning of a growing and vibrant Garden Club that was admitted into the Garden Club of America in 1938. The members of the club soon became knowledgeable in gardening, garden design, horticulture and flower arranging. They used this knowledge to inspire others to participate in improving the Houston planted environment.

The River Oaks Garden Club currently has more than 400 members who participate in many civic projects benefiting the public of Houston and Harris County:

Publication of A Garden Book for Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast
Presentation of the annual Azalea Trail, a spring tradition of homes and gardens tours open to the public (since 1934).

Preservation and maintenance of the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building and Gardens. Built originally as a Harris County School in 1910 and purchased by the River Oaks Garden Club in 1942.

Presentation of the annual Pink Elephant Sale for the public (since 1951). The “tonnage of rummage” sale of the best quality goods in “the pink of condition” at very reasonable prices.

Permanent supervision of the Bayou Bend Gardens since 1961. The Bayou Bend estate was the former home of Miss Ima Hogg until 1966 when she gave her American antique collection and the property to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Bayou Bend Collection opened to the public in 1966.

Establishment of the Bayou Bend Gardens Endowment (1967) , a permanent trust for the preservation and maintenance of the gardens.

Presentation of the annual Sadie Gwin Blackburn Environmental Seminar (1991) open to the public.

Presentation of the biennial “Florescence” Art in Bloom flower and horticulture show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and designated a “Major Flower Show” open to the public since 1995.

Establishment of the Forum of Civics Foundation (2004), an endowment for the preservation and care of the Forum of Civics Building and Gardens.