In celebration of Spring with its tapestry woven with flowers of soft pastels and brilliant colors, let’s see what historical accounts tell us about the garden at 541 Black Avenue.
Board of Director minutes from 1948 recounts, “The duties of the Garden and Grounds Committee was somewhat different in 1896. They looked after the repair of the leaky cistern, repaired the fences and the grape arbor, bought feed for the cows and chickens in addition to white- washing the chicken house, fixing the pump, buying coal buckets and lanterns, moving the ashes, etc. I often wonder what happened to the barn and chicken houses, which sheltered the cows and chickens mentioned so frequently throughout the years, but I found in July 1930, the house in the rear on Ridgely Ave., was sold and moved from the premises. The other old buildings and fences were torn down, thus giving us the large garden spot we have today.”
In the Sumer of 1944, William Smith, the caretaker of the King’s Daughters Home, won first place in the Citizens Tribute Victory Garden Contest for the beautiful garden at the home. His prize was a $25.00 war bond. Beans, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers from his garden were canned by the staff of the Home.
In 2000, Barbara Archer, who was First-Vice President at that time, of the King’s Daughters Executive Board, wrote an article entitled “Springfield’s Hidden Treasure” for the Illinois Educators Advocacy & Retirement Network, Inc. where she described the garden, “ Stretching behind the Home are our lovely gardens, bespectacled with trees and flower gardens planted as memorials for members and residents. These beautiful memorial gardens provide a most peaceful, pleasant and satisfying area where many ladies stroll, sit in the swing and talk or just sit on a bench to read.”
The last account found was written by a King’s Daughters Executive Board Member on June 26, 2007, Moving Day on the last day of the King’s Daughters Home. In an essay entitled “A Bittersweet Day to Remember,” the garden is described as “Today the back gardens are manicured and still reflect the simplicity of beauty and solitude. One can almost see our ladies smelling the flowers, touching the trees, and just relaxing and enjoying one more day in this world as they slowly, carefully traverse the shaded garden walks and enjoy the many birds the bird feeders attract.”
It appears that the tender loving care for the ladies at the Carrie Post Home for Women was also evident in the Home’s beautiful garden. Happy Spring!