Support the American Rose Center

Support the American Rose Center

By Robert B. Martin, Jr.

The American Rose Center in Shreveport, Louisiana is the crown jewel of the American Rose Society. Created in 1974, it is the headquarters of the Society, and the home of the Klima Rose Hall Education and Visitor Center.  The Gardens of the American Rose Center, with over 42 acres and 20,000 roses, is the nation's largest park dedicated to roses and contains more than 65 individual gardens.

The property is owned debt-free by the Society. Operations are funded by gate receipts, educational events, rentals of the Klima Center, and by interest from the Maintenance Endowment Trust. This Trust has been generously funded by the citizens of Shreveport-Bossier as well as by members of the American Rose Society from across the country. The property has historically been an economic benefit to our Society, and at a value in excess of $4 million, it is a tremendous asset.

The entire property consists of 118 acres, a large portion of which consists of a pine forest that is periodically logged for the benefit of the society. The property includes a large administration building, and the Klima Rose Hall, a 10,000 square foot facility completed in 2005 at a cost of over $2.1 million. The latter serves the public in providing three great dining/meeting rooms as well as facilities that support the Hardtner Chapel, a favorite place for visitors, weddings and ceremonies. It also features the Watkins Reflection Garden, to be built with the proceeds of a $700,000 gift.

The Klima Rose Hall also houses the Schorr Library, which is furnished with a library table and leather chairs, surrounded by oak shelves containing the ARS’s extensive collection of rose books, including signed and first editions of great rose books.

In the 1935 American Rose Annual, a Committee formed two years earlier described a proposed Rosarium of the American Rose Society. There, they envisioned a large area, “preferable more than one hundred” acres with a “comprehensive display” of roses “more complete than any municipal rose garden.” They hoped it would showcase the “landscape value of shrub roses” and areas “devoted to special exhibitions”. They also envisioned a “suitable library building” with all supported by a “definitive financial foundation” “independent of governmental subvention or partisan influence.” To those who thought the project too idealistic, they quoted the words of the late municipal designer, D. H. Burnham: 

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high and hope and work; remembering that a noble, logical design once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistency.”

Today at the 82nd anniversary of the formation of the Committee on the National Rosarium, their dreams stand realized with the American Rose Center. Yet there are still some who question its location, its cost and whether it is a burden on the membership. 

Our headquarters has to be located somewhere in this vast nation and that somewhere of necessity is going to be closer to some members than others. We are fortunate to have been welcomed by the wonderful citizens of Shreveport who support the American Rose Center as a prized community asset. It is also not a burden to the Society; in fact it is an irreplaceable asset that pays financially not only for itself but also to support our operations. It is unique among American plant societies, which is fitting to the unique place of the rose as America’s National Flower.

The American Rose Center, as with any rose garden, is a living thing. It needs to be tended and caused to grow. I call on all members of the American Rose Society to recognize this great treasure, to visit it, to support it financially and to join with me in continuing to support the American Rose Center.