History of the Southampton Rose Society

The Early Years
In 1976, a small group of gardeners, who shared an interest in learning the horticultural principles practiced by the American Rose Society, approached local resident, Dorothy Nigro, to organize a professional rose society. Nigro had no experience growing roses, but accepted the challenge and the Southampton Rose Society (SRS) was born. It became the first New York State Chapter of the American Rose Society (ARS), and, as its first President, Nigro immediately put her organizational skills to work structuring a foundation to build on.

During that first year, guidelines and priorities were established for the new Board of Directors, and a program of educational lectures on rose culture began. Nigro also created and wrote DUNE ROSE, the Society’s newsletter to communicate with its membership of 64 men and women.

The following year produced an ambitious program that would appeal to both the rose exhibitor and the rose gardener: the first rose show exhibition, rose garden tours and an expanded educational program that would include workshops hosted by member and Consulting Rosarian, David Dawn.

In 1979 the SRS was invited to host the ARS New York State District Convention in Southampton. Nigro, again, took the lead and chaired the event, which would involve many people including local officials.

Members opened their homes and gardens to visiting dignitaries and members of the American Rose Society and its affiliated and chapter societies for an entire weekend in September. Historical “Jobs Lane” was renamed “Rose Lane”, and the convention schedule rivaled any in the
country. The warm hospitality of Southampton was displayed in a full array of parties, garden tours, the rose exhibition and band concert, and left a lasting impression on all those who attended.

The Middle Years
In 1992, after serving as the Secretary of the SRS, Harvey Feinstein was thrust into the role of President, when Brenda Baldwin unexpectedly died. During that time the membership numbered 42 men and women. Feinstein resuscitated the SRS by resurrecting DUNE ROSE newsletter, which had been out of circulation for four years, designed a new logo and published the first issue of the Green Book Directory, a members’ listing and contact information.

Hoping to increase the membership, Feinstein started to plan tours, visiting villas and gardens in Europe. Membership grew to 145.

During Feinstein’s tenure he succeeded in launching a beautification program by planting roses at historical sites and focal points in the Village of Southampton.

Fast forward to 2001
Harvey Feinsten, SRS President Emeritus 1992-1997, proposed a beautification plan to create a public rose garden on the grounds of the newly-built Rogers’ Memorial Library in the village of Southampton. Helga Dawn-Frohling, SRS member, spearheaded the project and after many months of deliberation, then President of the Library Board of Trustees, William G. Murphy, who appreciated the importance of a rose garden in a public space, convinced the Trustees to approve the plan. However, the SRS would be solely responsible for the care and maintenance of the garden.

In the fall of 2002 ground was broken and construction began. The Southampton Rose Society raised the necessary funds to underwrite the entire project solely through contributions by members, friends and fundraisers. Helga Dawn-Frohling and Adeline Christie worked together on the planting scheme and choosing the roses, and on a sunny day in June 2003, the Dedication of the “SRS Rose Garden” took place with the ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by C.Z. Guest and Helga Dawn-Frohling.

The formation of the Southampton Rose Society as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 educational organization was established. C. Z. Guest, horticulturalist and syndicated columnist, Adrienne Vittadini, fashion designer, David Koch, oil magnate, and Marty Richards, producer of Broadway shows and movies, are some of the notable people who have supported the good works of the Society and have aided the SRS in raising money for the SRS Rose Garden Endowment Fund.

To raise awareness of the Society and our national flower, in June 2005 Adeline Christie and Lance Brilliantine teamed together to stage the first Southampton Rose Day Rose Parade. Money was raised from local businesses to underwrite the parade by selling advertising space in the Events Guide, and the members joined the effort in selling SRS branded merchandise, posters and roses. Once again, “Jobs Lane” was renamed “Rose Lane”. Following the parade consisting of rose floats, marching bands, rose covered automobiles, rose strewn antique fire engines, motorcycles and “Rose Hat Competition” entrants, visitors were invited into the Annual Rose Show and feted with entertainment. Famous artist “Mandad” created a limited edition of posters especially designed for Rose Day 2005, which are now collectors’ items.

During this period DUNE ROSE newsletter took on an entirely new look and content in the hands of editor Lyn Hamer. Hamer re-styled DUNE ROSE and created a modern, full-color, publication that rivals any, and is a mainstay of the organization.

Under Adeline Christie’s administration, 2006 and 2007 produced some of the SRS’s proudest achievements: successful fundraisers to support the SRS Rose Garden Endowment Fund and the good works of the Society; the first children’s educational program teaching children ages five to ten the basic principles of planting and caring for a rose bush by giving hands-on demonstrations along with an illustrated “how to book” written by Christie and a mini-rose plant to take home to start their own garden. The design and launch of the SRS website was a majorstep in modernizing our image – Christie and Nancy Rollins worked closely with a design group to design and launch the new website and the new trademarked logo for use on future SRS product branding and the Annual Meeting/Lecture/Luncheon Series with noted guest speakers from around the world. Gloria Kaye, Rose Show Chairperson, continues to improve the aesthetics of the rose show each year. To further publicize the show, we introduced our first Rose Art Competition in 2006. It gained in popularity, and in 2007 many more professionals and amateurs entered and vied for prizes underwritten by local businesses.

The Southampton Rose Society has grown to almost 200 members, and continues in its efforts to attract new members, publicize the rose and its importance as our national flower and reaches out to rose enthusiasts everywhere, who are interested in rose culture. It also provides lectures by world-renowned rosarians including Peter Beales in 2007 and the 2008 lecture by Mme. Odile Masquelier; hosts magnificent garden tours; affords educational programs to the public, and takes pride in sharing with everyone the joys and rewards of exhibiting and gardening with roses. It also promotes membership in the American Rose Society at all events.

The Later Years
Dennis P. Sheahan, Pres. Emer. 2008, representing the Southampton Rose Society, participated in the Village of Southampton’s Beautification Project by overseeing the creation and installation of two rose planting sites. One location is on Hampton Road at the “Hampton Homecare” building. Serveral interconnected trellises with large flowering climbers, red “Dublin Bay”, are underplanted with perennials and landscape roses along a newly installed brick path, which transforms the parking area. The second location is on Windmill Lane at “Shippy’s” restaurant. What was once a blank unattractive wall, is now the site of white climbing hydrangeas and red landscape “Knockout” roses . The Southampton Rose Society solely underwrites these public rose garden sites and their maintenance, including the “SRS Rose Garden”, all through its own fundraising efforts.

Past Presidents
Dorothy Nigro 1976-1978
Lois Scancarello (Fowkes) 1979
Maureen Oser Matthews 1980-1981
Madelle Semerjian 1982-1983
Pauline Sullivan 1984-1985
Dee DeNiff 1986-1987
Nancy Stone 1988-1989
Brenda Baldwin 1990-1992
Harvey Feinstein 1992-1997
Roberta Liford 1998-1999
Cynthia Brodsky 2000-2001
Spencer Dworkin 2002-2003
Jane Indoe 2004-2005
Adeline Christie 2006-2007
Dennis P. Sheahan 2008
Carol Kroupa 2009-2011