The Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club Gears Up For The Holidays

Friday, December 7, 2012 - by Ferris Robinson

The Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club does not allow any moss to grow, or it least not this past year. They've been as busy and productive as Santa's elves, and have been working hard all year long.

Tonight is the opening night of the Holiday Open House at the historical Craven's House on the side of Lookout Mountain. For the first time in ten years, this landmark is decked to the nines with freshly cut greenery in the same manner it would have been in the Civil War era. Boughs of hemlock and magnolia and  clove-studded oranges make the entire house smell like Christmas.

Built in 1838 by Robert Cravens, the house was a major point in the Civil War's Battle Above the Clouds. Destroyed during the war by drunken Union soldiers, it was rebuilt by Cravens, and later purchased by Adolf Ochs and donated to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

A trailhead for over thirty miles of trails, the one-acre lot is a resting stop for migrating birds using the Cumberland escarpment and Tennessee River riparian corridor as a migration pathway.

The tours are free, but require pre-registration. They are only offered Friday December 7 and Friday December 14, and reservations can be made at 821-7786.

Beginning at 6pm tonight and beginning every half hour until 8pm, twelve guests at a time will step back in time and immerse themselves in this beautifully decorated historic landmark.

When these talented women aren't decorating for the holidays, they are cooking. And you've got to love the name of their new cookbook, Beautiful at 100.  It refers to the 100th year of the Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club, and is the name of the club's new cookbook. But being beautiful at one hundred connotes all sorts of lovely images.

"Organized in 1912 to foster appreciation for the love of gardening, the Lookout Mountain Beautiful Club has promoted interest and education in horticulture, landscaping, floral design and environmental concerns," says Cynthia Moroney, president. In addition, it is clear that this group of women, which range in age from new mothers to great-grand mothers, have a big time together, and that many special friendships have grown out of this organization.

This cookbook is more than mere collection of recipes. It gives a history of the Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club, which was organized in 1912 by Mrs. Newell Sanders. Married to a US senator, this dynamo made her home the volunteer headquarters for the Red Cross in WWI and was the first woman in the south to vote in the municipal elections. A brief history of Lookout Mountain is also included in the cookbook, as well as lots of vintage photographs.

Another interesting feature of Beautiful at 100 is the addition of quotes peppered throughout the pages. "Go often to the house of a friend, for weeds soon choke up the unused path." Scandinavian Proverb

How perfect is that little quote for the holiday season? And throughout the year?

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, along with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature." Ann Frank

Again, how often could we stand to be reminded of that truth?

Besides being an interesting book to actually read, Beautiful at 100 is the mother lode of fabulous recipes. Culled from some of the finest cooks on Lookout Mountain, each recipe is credited with its contributor so you know if it comes from Helen Exum or Ruth Oehmig or, well every single one of these women, it's going to be divine. There is a section at the beginning of the book entitled Special Recipes, and these are recipes from some of the past presidents of the garden club as well as from some of the Lookout Mountain establishments, including the Fairyland Club, the Golf Club, Café on the Corner and Covenant College.

This collection of 500 fabulous heirloom and novel new recipes is perfect for both the novice and experienced cook. At only $20, this hard bound spiral book features a painting by Diane Reed of a mountain waterfall, and is available at Dayle May, Fisher Evans, Natural Body, Fairyland Pharmacy, Twiggs and most of the tourist attractions on Lookout Mountain.


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