History of Flower Mart
The first Flower Mart, held in 1939, was a handful of booths with jaunty green and white striped awnings lining the Pilgrim steps. It is said that Mrs. Roosevelt was the first First Lady to attend Flower Mart. She was interested in seeing the wares brought to the "Market" by local farmer's wives. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson acted as a cashier selling fruits and vegetable at one Mart. Eight "First Ladies" have opened or attended Flower Mart. They are: Eleanor Roosevelt, Edith Wilson, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Pat Nixon, Lady Bird Johnson, Jackie Kennedy and Barbara Bush.
Violet Thoron, AHG long-serving Board member, remembers her Mother-in-law’s description of the history of the beginning of Flower Mart: “In 1932, Mrs. Thoron, Senior, spent the winter in Rome. She often went to the Spanish Steps in Rome where flower sellers gathered to sell their blossoms. She suggested that the Cathedral South Steps, the Pilgrim Steps, would also lend themselves as a place to stage a flower sale to benefit the Cathedral grounds. In 1939, the first All Hallows Guild Flower Mart was indeed held on the Pilgrim Steps.” Credit Suzanne Miller, All Hallows Herald, 2008.
Flower Mart’s Memorable Milestones
By 1949, Flower Mart had grown to 39 booths on the Pilgrim Steps. So, to accommodate the growth, in 1950, Flower Mart moved from Pilgrim Steps to Oak Grove on the West Front of the Cathedral.
In 1954, the first Embassy was asked to be a "Theme Country" for the Mart adding the fun and experience that another country's culture and food can bring to the festival. Mrs. William W. Mackall (Mary Earle) was the Chairman of that Flower Mart honoring France. Mrs. Richard M. Nixon, wife of Vice President, and Mme. Henri Bonnet, Wife of the French Ambassador, opened. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson worked in a booth.
In 1985, the Flower Mart was held for two days thus starting that tradition, which continues today. The Netherlands was the honored country and Mrs. Richard Fein, wife of the Ambassador opened the festivities.
In 1990, a ceremony celebrating setting of the final pinnacle atop the Cathedral’s tower occurred on the Saturday of Flower Mart. Mrs. George H. W. Bush opened Flower Mart.
Today Flower Mart booths encircle the Cathedral. Music, dance, puppet shows, children's rides and games, flower booths selling a wide variety of herbs, annuals and perennials, gift boutique vendors, White Elephant Sale treasures, used book sales and a variety of wonderful foods make the Flower Mart experience a memorable one for the whole family.
Flower Mart Chairpersons and Themes
1939 Miss Belle Gurnee, chairman – Held on Pilgrim Steps (until 1950); $1282.57 profit realized
1940 Miss Belle Gurnee, chairman – Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in attendance
1941 Mrs. Lewis Clarke (Anne Covington), chairman
1942 Mrs. George Garrett, chairman – Mrs. Edith Wilson, wife of wartime President, Woodrow Wilson, acted for a time as a cashier at the Mart.
1943 Mrs. W. Meade Fletcher, Jr. (Augusta T.), chairman – A “Phantom” Mart was created by AHG President, Mrs. Charles Warren, during war years of 1943 &1944.
1944 Mrs. W. Meade Fletcher, Jr. (Augusta T.), chairman
1945 Dean Suter Chairman of Festival Committee. “Cathedral Festival” proposed by Dean Suter, was held in May 1945 at which AHG had booth. No Flower Mart was held.
1946 Mrs. K. McCook Knox & Mrs. Wm. L. Ritchie, co chair Mrs. Harry S. Truman opened in 1946 and for next 6 years. A little over $3,000 was raised.
1947 Mrs. Thomas A. Stone (Alexandra E.), chairman – Flower Mart hours were 11 am to 6 pm. Mrs. Suter was chair of the Fruit and vegetables booth.
1948 Mrs. William L. Ritchie (Eleanor P.), chairman – First Lady, Mrs. Truman visited all the booths & presented prizes.
1949 Mrs. S. David Barry (Neville J.; later Mrs. C. Leslie Glenn), chairman – First Lady, Mrs. Truman attended. There were 37 booths on the Pilgrim Steps.
1950 Mrs. G. Howland Chase (Mary H.), chairman – First Lady, Mrs. Truman opened. Flower Mart moved from its original location (on the Pilgrim Steps) to Oak Grove on the West Front of the Cathedral.
1951 Mrs. William Draper Blair (Mary Eula), chairman
1952 Mrs. Lewis Clarke (Anne Covington), chairman
1953 Mrs. W. John Kenney (Peg), chairman – First Lady, Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower opened.
1954 Mrs. William W. Mackall (Mary Earle), chairman – Honoring France; Mrs. Richard M. Nixon, wife of VP and Mme. Henri Bonnet opened. Flower Mart Milestone—First Year a country was honored as a theme. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson worked in a booth.
1955 Mrs. John Clifford Folger (Katharine Dulin), chairman. Honoring Great Britain. Lady Makins, Wife of British Ambassador opened. Mrs. John Foster Dulles attended.
1956 Mrs. Frank G. Wisner (Polly Knowles) (later Mrs. Clayton Fritchey), chairman. Honored country: Japan. Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower opened
1957 Mrs. John L. Newbold, chairman. Theme: Turn of the Century and Cathedral 50th anniversary. Mrs. Richard M. Nixon, wife of the Vice President opened.
1958 Mrs. Lewis S. Thompson (Loulie G.), chairman. Honored country: The Netherlands. Mme. Van Roijen, wife of Netherlands Ambassador, awarded prizes for most typically Dutch booth. Mrs. Neil McElroy, wife of Sec. of Defense opened. Senate wives acted as judges: Mrs. Prescott Bush, Mrs. Albert Gore, Mrs. Hubert Humphrey, Mrs. Lyndon Johnson, Mrs. Stuart Symington, Mrs. Leverett Saltonstall.
1959 Mrs. Atreus von Schrader (Carol), chairman. Honored country: Greece. Mrs. William F. Creighton, wife of the (new) Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese, opened.
1960 Mrs. Ned Russell (Mary Woevodsky), chairman. Honored country: Denmark. Countess Knuth-Winterfeldt, wife of Danish ambassador, opened. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in attendance
1961 Mrs. David N. Yerkes (Catharine), chairman. Honored country: Austria. First Lady, Mrs. John F. Kennedy opened.
1962 Mrs. Paul H. Nitze (Phyllis Pratt), chairman. Honored country: Mexico, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson opened.
1963 Mrs. Henry B. Day (Patty Spencer), chairman. Theme: Country Fair, 1850’s. AHG bought carousel. Mrs. Orville L. Freeman, wife of Secretary of Agriculture, opened.
1964 Mrs. Thomas P. Dillon (Gibby) (Later Mrs. Robert Edson), chairman. Theme: Medieval Fair. First Lady, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson opened.
1965 Mrs. W. Jasper DuBose, Jr. (Alexandra H., later Mrs. Robert McElwaine), chairman. Theme: Americana USA. Mrs. Lloyd N. Hand, wife of new Chief of Protocol, opened.
1966 Mrs. William F. Creighton (Mary Louise) and Mrs. W. Graham Claytor, Jr. (Fran), co-chairs. Theme: AHG 50th Anniversary.
1967 Mrs. Robert French Evans (Janie), chairman. Theme: Ireland. Mrs. William P. Fay, wife of Irish Ambassador, opened.
1968 Mrs. John I. Getz (Elizabeth), chairman. Honored country: Spain.
1969 Mrs. Ernest N. May, Jr. (Betty), chairman. Theme: Storybook Land. Mrs. Frank Borman, wife of astronaut opened.
1970 Mrs. Everett Parkinson (Sally), chairman. Theme: American Music. Mrs. Walter Hickel opened
1971 Mrs. C. Swan Weber (Ruthanna M.), chairman. Honored country: Switzerland. Mrs. Felix Schneider, Ambassador’s wife, opened.
1972 Mrs. Ralph E. Becker (Ann), chairman. Nordic Theme
1973 Mrs. Ralph E. Ulmer (Frances) (Later Mrs. W. William Eldridge, III), chairman. Honored country: Great Britain. Lady Cromer, wife of British Ambassador, opened.
1974 Mrs. John F. Rudy (Caroline W.), chairman. Honored country: Mexico. Mrs. Jose Juan de Olloqui, ambassador’s wife, opened. The Ambassador planted a Mexican Hawthorne tree (there is now a plaque in Bishop’s Garden wall).
1975 Mrs. S. Parker Oliphant (Martha C.), chairman. Honored country: Japan. Madame Yasukawa, ambassador’s wife, planted a cherry tree.
1976 Mrs. James H. Wakelin (Carol), chairman. Theme: The 50 States. Mrs. Warren Burger, wife of the Chief Justice, opened.
1977 Mrs. R. Floyd Jennings, Jr. (Babs), chairman. Theme: The Performing Arts (Music, Movies, Theatre, Dance). Mrs. Brock Adams, wife of Secretary of Transportation, opened.
1978 Mrs. Andrew C. Waldrop (Kaaren), chairman. Theme: French Impressionism. Madame Rene Boyer, wife of Counselor of France, opened.
1979 Mrs. Paul V. Martenson (Carolyn K.), chairman. Theme: Flowers International. Actress Elizabeth Taylor, in her role as wife of Senator John Warner, Jr. opened Flower Mart.
1980 Mrs. Jane Robert DeGraff (Later Mrs. Sloat), chairman. Theme: Spring in Holland. Mrs. Age [sic] Robert Tammenoms Bakker, wife of Netherlands Ambassador opened.
1981 Mrs. James G. Dougherty, Jr. (Jeanne), chairman. Theme: A German Festival Mrs. Peter Hermes, wife of Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, opened.
1982 Mrs. Richard V. Mattingly, Jr. (Linda) and Mrs. Harold D. Brown (Kay), co-chairs. Theme: Cathedral’s 75th Anniversary. Mrs. George Bush, wife of VP, opened.
1983 Mrs. J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. (Pollyanne) and Mrs. Joseph N. Cate, Jr. (Pat), co-chairs. Theme: A Peruvian Festival
1984 Mrs. Edwin W. Semans, Jr. (Mary Lou), chairman. Theme: The British Isles. Lady Wright, wife of British Ambassador Sir Oliver Wright, opened.
1985 Mrs. George B. Hotchkiss, Jr. (Mary Lib) and co chair Mrs. Guy H. Lewis III (Fran). Honored country: The Netherlands. Mrs. Richard Fein, wife of Netherlands Ambassador, opened. Flower Mart became a two-day event this year.
1986 Mrs. George B. Hotchkiss, Jr. (Mary Lib), chairman. Honored country: France. Mme. Emmanuel de Margeri, wife of French Ambassador, opened.
1987 Mrs. Otis R. McCollum (Hilda), chairman. Honored country: Sweden Countess Wilhelm Wachtmeister, wife of Swedish Ambassador, opened.
1988 Mrs. Ludlow King, III (Margo), chairman. Honored country: Italy. Anne Merete Petrignani, wife of Italian Ambassador, opened.
1989 Mrs. Douglas N. Beatty (Patti), chairman. Honored country: New Zealand. Mrs. Shennan Francis, wife of New Zealand Ambassador, opened.
1990 Mrs. Guy T. Steuart, II (Peggy), chairman. Theme: These United States. Mrs. George H.W. Bush opened. A ceremony featuring the Cathedral’s final pinnacle setting took place on Saturday.
1991 Mrs. Edwin W. Semans, Jr. (Mary Lou), chairman. Theme: Bicentennial of Washington, D.C. “Washington” - 1791”. Mrs. J. Danforth Quayle, wife of VP opened.
1992 Mrs. John L. Bowles (Kay Diane) and Mrs. Hilliard W. Paige (Dodie), co-chairs. Honored country: Spain. The acting Ambassador (formal diplomatic relations between US & Spain were established May 11, 1992) came to the Coffee before Opening Ceremonies. Andalusian horses pulled a carriage to the Ceremony. Dean Nathan Baxter’s first Flower Mart.
1993 Mrs. William P. Daisley (Linda), chairman. Honored country: Denmark. Mrs. Peter P. Dyvig, wife of Ambassador from Denmark. The Tivoli Boys Guard performed. U.S. Capitol made of Legos on West Front.
1994 Mrs. William P. Daisley (Linda) and Mrs. Guy T. Steuart, II (Peggy), co-chairs. Honored country: Finland. Mrs. Jukka (Etel) Valtasaari, wife of Finnish Ambassador opened.
1995 Mrs. Seth L. Warfield (Missy), chairman. Honored country: Japan. Hon. Chair, Mrs. (Masako) Kuriyama, wife of Ambassador Takakazu Kuriyama opened. The Ambassador attended on Saturday and participated in theme tent.
1996 Mrs. Guy H. Lewis III (Fran), chairman. Honored country: Switzerland. Ambassador Carlo Jagmetti opened. Mrs. Erica Jagmetti, wife, of Ambassador was a Booth Judge.
1997 Mrs. Mary Evelyn Dean, chairman. Honored country: Italy. Mrs. Anna Maria Salleo, wife of Italian Ambassador, opened. An 1800 lb. olive press set up on West Front. Flag throwers performed, West Front.
1998 Mrs. Athelstan F. Spilhaus, Jr. (Sharon), chairman. Honored country: Greece.
1999 Mrs. Eduard H. Brau (Sarah), chairman. Honored country: Germany. Honorary Chair, Magda Gohar-Chroberg, wife of German Ambassador.
2000 Mrs. Thomas Cooke (Julie), chairman. Honored country: Great Britain. Lady Catherine Meyer, wife of Ambassador opened. Mrs. Anthony Williams, wife of DC Mayor attended.
2001 Mrs. Bruce P. Kelso (Angie), chairman. Honored country: France. Mme. Anne Bujon deL’Estang, wife of the French Ambassador, opened. She had last attended Flower Mart when her Aunt was Hon. Chair in 1986.
2002 Mrs. C. Tucker Battle (Jane) and Mrs. Seth L. Warfield (Missy), co-chairs. Australia was the honored country. Deborah Thawley, wife of Michael J. Thawley, Australian Ambassador, opened. Puppet show was “Blunder Down Under”.
2003 Mrs. Charles R. Skillern (Dee), chairperson. Honored country: Belgium. Baroness Christiane van Daele opened. Geert Pattyn, famous floral designer created a vegetable carpet on West Front.
2004 Mrs. Sheldon Ray, Jr. (Mary Beth), chairperson. Honored country: Mexico. A Cultural Minister from the Embassy opened flower Mart. Mrs. Bremer, wife of former Mexican Ambassador visited the Bishop’s Garden in the Spring. The Embassy’s ambassador post was in transition.
2005 Mrs. C. Allen Foster (Susan), chairperson. Honored country: Switzerland. Mrs. Christian Blickenstorfer opened.
2006 Mrs. Wilson N. Felder, II, chairperson. Theme: “Flowers Around the World”. Cathedral parking garage was under construction.
2007 Ms. Esther Suss, chairperson. Theme: “A Salute to Canada” Mrs. Margaret Wilson,
wife of Canadian Ambassador opened and designed a floral display of the two flags—US and Canada.
2008 Deborah S. Page, chairperson. Theme: “Celebration of Cathedral’s Centennial & Republic of South Africa”. His Excellency Ambassador Welile Nhlapo opened.
2009 Debra Karlin, chairperson. Theme: “A Salute to United Kingdom”. Lady Sheinwald, wife of Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Ambassador from Great Britain was Honorary Chair.
2010 Lydia Chopivsky Benson, chairperson. Honored country: Ukraine. His Excellency Dr. Oleh Shamshur, Honorary Chairman opened the Mart.
2011 Christina Bordeaux and Boucie Addison, co-chairs. Honored country: Austria. His Excellency Dr. Christian Prosl opened.
2012 Vickie Smith Longosz, chairperson. Honored country: Jamaica – Celebrating 50 years of Independence. Representing the Embassy during a transition, Ms. Cherryl Gordon, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Embassy of Jamaica, The Hon. Marigold Harding JP, Vickie Longosz, and Mrs. Guy T. Steuart, II - joined in the ribbon cutting.
2013 Malini Jadeja and Lydia Chopivsky Benson, co-chairs. Theme: “America the Beautiful”. The United States First Ladies honored.
2014 Lucie Patton and Christina Grigorian, co-chairs. Theme: Flower Mart’s 75th Anniversary.
2015 Lydia Chopivsky Benson and Lucie Patton, co-chairs. Theme: Asia. Seventeen Asian Embassies and Cultural Offices participated - sharing their culture, history, and food.
2016 Beth Cowie and Cynthia Bader, co-chairs. Theme: All Hallows Guild’s Centennial. The All Hallows Guild tent featured giveaways, including the Flower Mart t-shirt, All Hallows Guild Centennial tote bag and the “Color the Cathedral Close” coloring book.
2017 Christina Grigorian and Sara Schaberg, co-chairs. Theme: All Hallows Guild – a New Century.
To view a history of Flower Mart (written for Flower Mart’s 75th anniversary in 2014) click here
“A Parade of Embassies” (Honoring countries 1954-2014) click here
“A Pictorial History of Flower Mart’s First 75 Years”, click here
To view a complete list of Flower Mart Themes and Chairpersons (from 1939 - 2017) click here
List of Honored Countries
Flower Mart's honored countries and their years of participation:
France: 1954, 1986, and 2001
Great Britain (the United Kingdom): 1955, 1973, 1984, 2000, 2009
Japan: 1956, 1975 and 1995
The Royal Netherlands: 1958, 1980, 1985
Greece: 1959, 1998
Denmark: 1960, 1972 (Nordic), 1993
Austria: 1961, 2011
Mexico: 1962, 2004
America (USA): 1965, 1970 (American Music), 1976 (50 States), 1990, 2013
Spain: 1968 and 1992
Switzerland: 1971, 1996, 2005
Germany: 1981, 1999
Italy: 1988, 1997
New Zealand: 1989
Republic of South Africa: 2008
Asia: 2015 - participating Asian partners: Embassy of the Republic of Armenia; Embassy of Bangladesh; Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office; Embassy of India; Embassy of Japan; Embassy of Kazakhstan; Embassy of Kyrgyzstan; Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Embassy of Malaysia; Embassy of Mongolia; Embassy of Nepal; Embassy of Pakistan; Embassy of Philippines; Embassy of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; Taipei Economic & Cultural Representative Office; Royal Thai Embassy; Embassy of the Republic of Turkey