The Browndale Garden Club was started on March 10, 1942 with 18 members. The bylaws stipulated a limit of 24 members, only 3 of which could be from outside. Its stated purpose is “to encourage all forms of gardening, home or community gardening, flower shows, and to increase the pleasure derived therefrom.” The club was declared to be non-sectarian and non-political.
It was originally intended to include women who lived in the entire south side, south of Excelsior Blvd. In 1946 the boundaries changed to 44th Street, 39th Street, Brookside, and Quentin. In the 1960’s, a preponderance of members lived in Brookside, on Brunswick Ave. Despite its name, it has always served all gardeners on the South Side.
Members met monthly to hear speakers from local nurseries, flower shops, and experts from the University of Minnesota. The generally met at a member’s home, but sometimes dined at Culbertson’s, the Colonial Inn, and the Red Owl Café in Hopkins.
In the beginning, members were concerned with victory gardens and the landscaping of neighborhood parks. Transportation to meetings was a problem, and members had to bring their own coffee and sugar to meetings because they were so scarce.
In addition to home gardening, the women brought flowers to people in institutions. They visited the Veterans’ Hospital and local nursing homes, particularly the Brookview Nursing Home when it opened in 1959. In 1950 they worked with the Vince Day Home, a “correction orphanage” run by the Hennepin County Welfare Society.
In 1946 the annual flower show was cancelled due to the polio epidemic. Instead, each member made a donation to Sister Kenney.
Browndale joined the Affiliated Garden Clubs of St. Louis Park in 1951 and participated in their annual flower shows, but resigned in 1958.
Browndale had its own flower show starting in 1947. It was discontinued in the ‘60’s.
In 1953, two Browndale members brought exhibits to a flower show sponsored by the Minikahda Garden Club “but they gave us no ribbons or acknowledgement.” Another off note in December when the club declined to donate to the City’s new community center on Lake Street because it was not in their area. Browndale also dropped out of the Federated Garden Clubs of Minnesota in 1954.
In January 1966, the club changed its name to the Browndale Garden and Hobby Club. The club’s scope was expanded to hobbies such as antiques, rug braiding, decoupage, burlap flowers, “glamour-wrap,” burlap angels, and photography.
By 1969 the members of the club were becoming in tune with events of the world. One of their activities was preparing “goodie boxes” for members’ sons who were fighting in Viet Nam. Pollution of Minnehaha Creek became another concern, and many women lived very near to the creek. The continued their visits to Brookview Nursing Home, and also visited children at Minneapolis General Hospital and Fairview Hospital. By 1977 they were holding events that benefited STEP, St. Louis Park’s emergency program.