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Horticultural Hall events scheduled for birthday

Celebrating a centennial

Historic Horticultural Hall is 100 years old this summer.

Larry and Vern Magee got married more than 50 years ago at Horticultural Hall. (click for larger version)
June 29, 2011 | 07:35 AM
One of Lake Geneva's most well-known landmarks, Horticultural Hall, is celebrating its birthday with a number of events this summer.

Built in 1911, the Hall's roots actually began in 1877, when summer lakeshore residents enlisted their gardeners and estate foremen to assist in raising money for the support of Holiday Home Camp.

By auctioning fruits and vegetables and staging mid-summer fairs, they were able to support the home. One account reveals that a watermelon brought $100 and a bunch of grapes sold for $75.

By 1904, that group organized into the Gardeners and Foremens Association, and, in 1911, a Horticultural Society was formally organized by Simeon Chapin.

Ground was broken that year. Subsequent years saw a flurry of farmer's markets, flower shows, horticultural projects and rummage sales at the hall to benefit Holiday Home.

Then, in 1915, a garden club was organized by Mrs. Charles Hutchinson, wife of then president of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Lake Geneva Garden Club continues to this day providing financial support for the hall.

Now operated as the nonprofit Geneva Area Foundation, Horticultural Hall is directed by dedicated trustees and volunteer board members who see to it that the building is preserved and maintained, and are so charged with raising capital to do so.

Supported by individuals and groups, the hall is available for rental for weddings and meetings, and the tradition of the farmer's market continues each Thursday from May through October.

A full week of events are scheduled from Sunday, July 31, to Sunday, Aug. 7. All are at historic Horticultural Hall unless otherwise noted.

- Sunday, July 31 — Centennial Opening Ceremony and Tales of Lake Geneva featuring Harry Hartshorne, Christi Moritz, Sue Morton, Marcie Douglass and Lucy Otzen, hosted by Ken Etten. This event is presented by the Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Committee, is free and will run from 1 to 3 p.m.

- Monday, Aug. 1 — Benefit Heritage cruise on the historic yacht, the Polaris, and luncheon at Horticultural Hall. Two trips will be at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The cruise is limited to 45 people each and the cost is $75 per person.

- Tuesday, Aug. 2 — Kids Day at Horticultural Hall. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be free activities for the kids. There also will be story hour and nature crafts, including making fairy houses out of natural indoor materials.

- Wednesday, Aug. 3 — Lake Geneva Garden Club floral exhibit and a speaker from the Garden Club of America. This program is at 11 a.m. and costs $10. It will be about landscape architecture as it relates to the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Gardens. Three of the archive gardens are located in Lake Geneva.

- Thursday, Aug. 4 — Farmer's Market of 1911 and cooking demo. A recreation of the historic farmer's market along with a fresh produce cooking demonstration by Chef John Bogan of the Lake Geneva School of Cooking at 10 a.m. Seminars from the UW-Extension including Kari Lutz on preservation at noon and Christine Regester on cool season crops and proper harvesting at 1 p.m. The seminars and cooking demonstration are free.

From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., horticulturalists Betty Adelman, Heritage Flower Farm, and Marion Gorski and Roy Diblik, of Northwind Perennial Farms, will speak on various topics, including the new woodland garden installation at Horticultural Hall. Cost is $20.

- Friday, Aug. 5 — Hort Couture Garden Gala benefit and auction. Enjoy floral displays, a light dinner, open bar, music and auctions. A silent auction will include Lake Geneva's hidden treasures, featuring personal items from notable Lake Geneva homes like those of the founding fathers. Also, live auction of garden baskets and fashionable floral designs. Cost is $100.

- Saturday, Aug. 6 — Informal open house. The community and friends can take an informal look at the building and garden. The event is free and runs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

- Sunday, Aug. 7 — Old fashioned ice cream social and music by the Country Gentlemen and Spirit of the Lakes Choruses. The event is $10 and runs from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

More details of the centennial events may be viewed at www.Horticulturalhall.com.

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