Garden Club Returns to Historical Park Stewardship

Garden Club

Camas-Washougal, WA – The Community Garden Club’s decades of service in Parker’s Landing Historical Park ended in 1999 with a granite plaque placed in the grass near the garden volunteers’ garden shed and a dogwood was planted nearby. The expressions of gratitude to the club was most likely initiated by Rosalee MacRae, park advocate and founder who was also a Community Garden Club member. Rosalee served as the Parkersville Site Development Committee Secretary, continuing her service as a Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Port member until her passing. 

In 1971, Rosalee attended a shower hosted by Mary Van Vleet in her guest house (formally the “little green house”) that had been converted into living quarters by Louis and Nina Chevron in 1942 when they discontinued their Parker’s Landing Dairy, also called Chevron and Sons. They closed their dairy due to the cost of pasteurization and decision to move out of the Van Vleet home they rented to be able to move in their son Vernon and his family.

In 1978, just before moving out, Mary Van Vleet invited Rosalee to her home. She had heard of Rosalee’s interest in seeing the inside of the 100 year-old main house. That year the paper reported others asking the Port to make the Van Vleet site a park, a request denied. At an American Association of University Women (AAUW), Dorothy Pionek put Rosalee in contact with Bernice Pluchos. In a public meeting called by the AAUW the idea of forming a historical society was put forth resulting in the Camas-Washougal Historical Society (CWHS). That year Mary passed away in August and in October the Van Vleet home was burned to the ground by an arsonist.

Downtown Camas

In 1980, a petition of nearly 1,200 names was submitted to the Port requesting the site become a park in perpetuity.  In 1985, notices were published in the newspaper inviting all interested citizens to join a committee named Parkersville Site Development Committee (PSDC). A month later a preliminary plan was presented to the Port with a 50-page park plan prepared by the PSDC and presented to the Port in 1986 with estimated costs to start the park. The first step was mounting the Department of Interior and State Bronze Plaques on a 25-ton Basalt boulder obtained from Fisher Rock Quarry. The dedication of the Parkersville National Historic and Archeological Site and opening of the Parker’s Landing Historical Park was held on Saturday, June 1, 1986.

At the Community Garden Club of Camas-Washougal (“Garden Club”) September meeting, Susan Tripp will share more about the park history and how Rosalee recruited her to join the PAC which led to being a PHF Director when Rosalee died. Susan’s presentation kicks off a new dedicated Garden Club team that will continue the club’s important history in the park. Learn more at the Community Garden Club of Camas-Washougal meeting in the Camas Community Center on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at 1 pm. Meetings are open to the public.

For more information contact Diana Hogg, President at [email protected], or visit https://gardenclubofcamaswashougal.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/CommunityGardenClubOfCamasWashougal

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