Around 1895 a park system was created connecting the corridor of Doan Brook from Shaker Lakes to Gordon Park on Lake Erie. In 1915, the Shaker Heights Land Company and Van Sweringen Company deeded property to the City of Cleveland for the park. In 1947, Cleveland leased to the cities of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights portions of the park within their boundaries. A proposed “Clark Freeway” (I-290) linking I-271 to downtown Cleveland through the park threatened the area in the 1960s. The proposal faced strong opposition from the Park Conservation Committee, a coalition of 30 garden clubs, the City of Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Heights PTA Council, the Shaker Historical Society, and other organizations. Governor James Rhodes withdrew the plans in 1970. The Clark Freeway was defeated and the park preserved.
In 1930, nine women from Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights formally organized The Village Garden Club and set as its goal the beautification of Shaker Parklands with trees. At a time when women were excluded from environmental activism, the club’s careful planning allowed members to lead civic improvements. Since its establishment, the club has planted and maintained flowering trees at Horseshoe Lake Park, pausing only during World War II. In the 1960s, The Village Garden Club and 34 other local organizations successfully fought the construction of the Clark-Lee Freeway. Club member Mary Elizabeth Croxton chaired the Park Conservation Committee that won the battle and established the Shaker Lakes Regional Nature Center. The Village Garden Club continues its stewardship over the flowering grove with “civic and environmental responsibility” as its focus.