Stewards to the Garden & Grounds of the Cathedral Since 1916

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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. 

Additional Information

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
Ireland: 1967
Spain: 1968 and 1992
Switzerland: 1971, 1996, 2005
Germany: 1981, 1999
Peru: 1983
Sweden: 1987
Italy: 1988, 1997
New Zealand: 1989
Finland: 1994
Australia: 2002
Belgium: 2003
Canada: 2007
Republic of South Africa: 2008
Ukraine: 2010
Jamaica: 2012

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