The Georgiana Smith Memorial Gardens
A Living Legacy of a Hood River Pioneer and Site of the Hood River County Library
In 1876, Ezra and Georgiana Smith arrived in Hood River by steamer, which off-loaded them on a sandbar in the Columbia River. With them were their five daughters (ages 12 to 3), a piano, and five crates of prized chickens. The Smiths were among the original fifteen settling families and in 1886 built Hood River’s first big house, at the corner of 6th and State St. This house, is owned by John and Charlene Stoltz, is presently the site of the Every Thread Counts and other businesses.
Georgiana Smith was one of Hood River’s first Library supporters. Mrs. Smith, who died in 1911, worked to make sure that the Hood River County Library was a functioning community resource long before the Carnegie Library building was built in 1913.
Before the Carnegie building, the Library was housed in downtown business space owned by the Smiths. By 1913, Hood River County Library system had established branches in Parkdale, Odell, Dee, and Cascade Locks. Several of Georgiana Smith’s daughters as members of the Hood River Women’s Club continued their mother’s work on behalf of the Library when that organization applied to the Carnegie Foundation for funds to build the Carnegie Library.
At the 1913 dedication of the Carnegie building, the principal speaker, Hood River’s grand old man, Ezra Smith recalled his wife Georgiana selling ice cream from a wagon in the 1880s at a Fourth of July Celebration. “She was not doing this for her own gain, as many thought, but because she was determined to accumulate a fund for establishing a reading room and library in this County. I am glad that the Library is being built upon this ground, which has in a way been consecrated by her life to such a purpose, and I hope that someday the city may acquire the rest of the block and make a … park.” Ezra Smith died in 1921. In 1935, the Smith daughters honored their father’s wish by deeding to the County the land surrounding their parents’ home for a park named for their mother.
In 1999, John and Charlene Stoltz gave to the Library Foundation the lot at the corner of 6th and Oak St. for inclusion in the Gardens. Originally, this lot was part of the parcel given by the Smith heirs to the County. The Hood River County Library Foundation raised $250,000 to renew the Gardens. The present Gardens was dedicated in October 2005.
[Georgiana Slocum Smith born May 22, 1842 Troy, NY; died Hood River, OR, Dec. 10, 1911]
Written by June Knudson, Former Library Director
June 18, 2007