The CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN, formerly known as the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland, is the country's oldest civic garden center. Established on 4 Dec. 1930, it was originally located in a boathouse at Wade Park Lagoon. The center was founded by members of the Garden Club of Greater Cleveland, who stated their purpose as "providing a place or places where knowledge and appreciation of gardening and horticulture are promoted." To raise money for the center, the Garden Club held a French St. Fair in front of the Art Museum on 12-14 June 1930, raising $17,000. Margaret Asborn, graduate of Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture, was the center's first director. The new center issued a newsletter, and by the end of its first year had had 47 lectures/demonstrations and 20,000 visitors. Reorganized in 1933, the center became the Garden Ctr. of Greater Cleveland, ending its sponsorship by the Garden Club. That was also the first year of the White Elephant Sale fundraiser, which has since become an important charity event, often billed as the world's largest rummage sale. The Garden Ctr. incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1937, and in 1939 it enlarged its center with 2 wings. Because of parking problems and danger of flooding, the center decided to relocate to its present (1995) site at 11030 East Blvd. in 1966. A west side branch, opened at Cudell House in 1940, was moved to the Beck Ctr. for more space in 1977. By 1990 the budget was $1 million and membership was more than 4,000, plus 39 corporate members. In 1994 the center's name was changed to the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
Knowles, Margaret. Fifty Years of Growing and Serving, 1930-1980: The Garden Center of Greater Cleveland