Worcester County Horticultural Society

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Worcester County Horticultural Society
Abbreviation WCHS
Formation 19 September 1840 (1840-09-19), de facto
3 March 1842 (1842-03-03),[1] official
Founded at Worcester, Massachusetts
Headquarters Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Dr, Boylston, MA 01505
James Karadimos[2]

The Worcester County Horticultural Society is a non-profit American horticultural society based out of Boylston, Massachusetts, whose stated mission as of 2014 is to "inspire the use and appreciation of horticulture to improve lives, enrich communities and strengthen commitment to the natural world,"[3] building upon its founding mission to "advanc[e] the science and encourag[e] and improv[e] the practice of [h]orticulture".[1] Formally established in 1842, it describes itself as the third-oldest horticultural society in the United States after the Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts societies.[4] Today the society's work predominantly focuses in organizing and operating Tower Hill Botanic Garden, as well as supporting the Cary Award, an award program for excellence in New England cultivation practices.


An illustration of the first Horticultural Hall on Front St., 1892.

The Society was informally founded on September 19, 1840 when several local doctors and businessmen met in Worcester "for the purposes of mutual improvement in the theoretical and practical branches of Horticulture," and in the subsequent weeks organized an exhibition of fine specimens of orchard and garden plants from cultivators in Central Massachusetts.[5] The organization's founders shaped it in homage to the Royal Horticultural Society in London, expressing hope in their earliest reports that their "little Society, which has thus far so bravely followed in the footsteps of the great Association of London, may, like our other other institutions, continue to flourish."[5] The Society was formally established by an act of the Massachusetts General Court on March 3, 1842.[5] The group continued to host exhibitions annually and by 1850 had a large enough membership and funds to purchase a plot of land and construct its first formal headquarters, "Horticultural Hall" on Front Street in Worcester.[6] Continuing to expand throughout the 19th century and early 20th century, the Society built another larger facility with library and auditorium space in 1928; this building is now home to the Worcester Historical Museum.[7][8]

In 1983 the board of trustees made a motion to found a botanical garden in Worcester County and by the end of 1985 this was filled with the purchase of the Tower Hill Farm which serves as the Society's main project and headquarters today.[9][10] Though the Society moved from its Worcester headquarters in 1986, it remains active in the community, having spearheaded efforts in the Worcester Tree Initiative by providing more than 30,000 trees to replace those lost in efforts to eradicate the Asian long-horned beetle.[11][12]


Operations of the Worcester County Horticultural Society are overseen by a Board of Trustees. Trustees meet at regular intervals throughout the year, as well as on committees that support the staff of Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Daily operations of the garden are led by a CEO, directors, and staff managers.

Name Dates of Term
John Green 1840-1844
Isaac Davis (lawyer) 1844-1848
John Milton Earle 1848-1851
Stephen Salisbury 1851-1857
Daniel Waldo Lincoln 1857-1860
Alexander Bullock 1860-1863
George Jaques 1863-1864
Francis H. Dewey 1867-1871
J. Henry Hill 1864-1867
George W. Richardson 1871-1872
George E. Francis 1872-1874
Obadiah Hadwen 1875-1876
William T. Merrifield 1876-1879
Stephen Salisbury III 1879-1881
Francis H. Dewey 1881-1888
Henry L. Parker 1888-1895
Obadiah Hadwen 1895-1908
George Calvin Rice 1908-1910
Edward W. Breed 1910-1916
Arthur E. Hartshorn 1916-1918
Charles Greenwood 1918-1920
Leonard C. Midgely 1920-1922
David L. Fiske 1922-1923
Myron F. Converse 1923-1948
Allen W. Hixon 1948-1960
Dr. Robert S. Illingworth 1960-1963
Herbert E. Berg 1963-1964
Linwood E. Erskine 1964-1968
Frederick D. Brown 1968-1972
Palmer W. Bigelow, Jr. 1972-1975
Paul E. Rogers 1975-1979
H. Waite Hurlburt 1979-1984
Cushing C. Bozenhard 1/1984-4/1984
Philip C. Beals 1984-1998
Hope H. Spear 1988-1992
Richard W. Dearborn 1992-1995
Mary "Sid" V.C. Callahan 1995-1999
Dale R. Harger 1999-2001
Jeremy F. O'Connell 2002-2007
Betsy C. DeMallie 2007-2009
Christopher S. Reece 2009-2015
James Karadimos 2016–present


  1. ^ a b Jaques, George (1847). "Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society". Boston: Eastburn's Press: 16–17. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  2. ^ Kane, Michael D. (25 March 2016). "New leadership poised to take over Worcester County Horticultural Society's Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston". MassLive. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "History and Mission". Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Worcester County Horticultural Society. Archived from the original on 17 April 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  4. ^ Sturtevant, Robert (1965). "Bulletin of the American Iris Society". Nashville: The Williams Printing Company. Retrieved 16 December 2016. Worcester is a city of 200,000 with the third oldest horticultural society in the nation, after Philadelphia, 1827, and Boston, 1829. 
  5. ^ a b c Jaques, 14.
  6. ^ Lincoln, Edward Winslow (1891). "Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society". Worcester, MA: Charles Hamilton, Printer: 13. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Converse, Myron (1928). "Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society". Worcester, MA: 5. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  8. ^ "Museum History". Worcester Historical Museum. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society". Worcester, MA. 1984: 16. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society". Worcester, MA. 1986: 4. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Worcester Tree Initiative". Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Worcester County Horticultural Society. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "WTI Receives Audubon A". Worcester Tree Initiative. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  13. ^ Worcester County Horticultural Society (2006). Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society. Tower Hill Botanic Garden Library. Worcester County Horticultural Society. p. 69. 

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