On a hot August afternoon in 1928, Miss Sarah D. Lowrie and Mrs. Seymour DeWitt Ludlum hosted a lunch at Hills Garden House, in Keene Valley, formerly the property of the famous guide, Old Mountain Phelps. With advice from Susan Hand, a Committee of Invitation brought together twelve women selected because they were true amateur gardeners and “represented the leading families whose influence counted most in County life.

This was the era of the Charleston, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, and bathtub gin; Herbert Hoover was president and the Scopes trial for teaching evolution was just ending; Hirohito, Mussolini, Hitler and Chiang Kai-shek were on the rise, and Amelia Earhart became the first female to fly across the Atlantic.

Essex County, the second largest county in New York State, was widely represented by these founding members:  Miss Mary Foote, Port Henry; Mrs. Augustus Hand and Mrs. A.J.. Wadhams, both of Elizabethtown; Mrs. Arthur R. Masten, Tahawus; Mrs. Augustus G. Paine, Jr., Willsboro; Mrs. Stephen Pell, Ticonderoga; Miss Sarah D. Lowrie and Mrs. Seymour Dewitt Ludlum, both of Keene Valley;  Mrs. Henry Rogers, Ausable Forks;  Miss Mary Eddy, Westport; Mrs. George Ladd, Wadhams; and Mrs. Wallis Craig-Smith, Upper Jay.