History of Baldwinsville's Peonies

Following the Civil War, Americans became interested in cultivating ornamental plantings. Baldwinsville's fertile farmlands gave rise to a healthy flowering and seed supply business. In the first half of the 20th century, asters, peonies, iris, tulips, gladioli, lilies, phlox, lilacs and narcissus raised here were shipped throughout the United States and to Europe and Asia.

Baldwinsville was represented in the national market by H.B. Williams, Aster Specialist and Indian Spring Farms, Inc.

Asters were the first to make Baldwinsville famous. In 1915 Williams held an Aster Day where the fields were visited by between 7,000 and 10,000 people. An account in the local newspaper said that several hundred cars passed by on Oswego Street in a few hours (that's in 1915!)

Among the visitors was Frederick A. Goodrich. He recognized the potential for successful farming and soon came to Baldwinsville to set up business.

He purchased the handsome Greek Revival home overlooking the Seneca River from the north, one mile west of the village. The farm was established in 1918 with 12 peony plants. In 1921 there were 100 varieties. By 1925, the farm had grown to 200 acres of flowers and 700 varieties of peonies. More than 50 men were on the payroll and Goodrich's investment had hit the $200,000 mark.

Indiana grower Harry E. Little was another outstanding figure in the peony world. He had received countless honors and awards for his work as a hybridizer. In 1926, he and Goodrich joined forces and incorporated Indian Springs Farms. Together they developed the largest peony farm in the United States.

The annual Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse Peony Fest is held every year to help preserve and perpetuate the memory of this unique chapter in Baldwinsville's horticultural history. This year's Peony Fest will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum Canton Street at McHarrie Park in the village.

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