For 80 years, Thornden Park has been the site of the E.M. Mills Memorial
The garden, located on Ostrom Avenue, is named for Dr. Edund M. Mills, a
Methodist minister, and one of the fonders of the Syracuse Rose Society.
The society was formed in 1911 and is the oldest rose society in continual
existence in the United States. It now has 240 members.
The Thornden Park site is actually the third rose garden planted by
soceity members. The first, which contained 2,500 rose bushes, was
planted in 1911 in Kirk Park.
In 1915, the garden moved to Mt. Olympus, located behind the old library
and the chemistry building at Syracuse University. It moved to its
present location in 1922, after the Mt. Olympus site was acquired by the
School of Forestry.
By the mid-1930's, the park was in full bloom and contained more than
7,000 bushes. In 1931, a lower garden (across from the present garden)
was dedicated, but later abandoned.
In 1970, a cooperative agreement was made between the society and the
City of Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs.
The society maintains the gardens, with members logging more than 3,700
volunteer hours annually. The parks department, which owns the garden,
maintains the area around the garden and provides some.
In addition to its work at the garden, the society has been quite active
in 2002. During the summer months, members presented roses around the
community and every week to veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Members also hosted the annual rose open house at the park in June and
competed in the New York State Fair.