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The Forum


The historic Forum of Civics building and gardens are available for special functions and wedding receptions. Please call 713.523.2483 or send an email for information. Open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Location: 2503 Westheimer • Houston, TX 77098

Forum Rental
The Forum is not to be used for commercial, political, fundraising purposes or teen parties. The maximum capacity is 175. Renter agrees to hire HPD security and all functions must be over and the building cleaned and vacated by 12:00 midnight. Outside catering is required and all rental equipment shall be picked up after the event unless otherwise arranged with the building manager.

The Forum is available for Wedding Receptions

Please call 713.523.2483 or send an email for information.

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About The Forum
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Built in 1910 and owned by the River Oaks Garden Club since 1942, the Forum of Civics building is of recognized historical significance and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its gardens provide valuable green space in the heart of the city and are open to the public free of charge.

Initially built for use as a county school, the building was remodeled in 1927 by John F Staub as headquarters for the Forum of Civics founded by Will Hogg. Hogg, who chaired the Houston Planning Commission, organized the Forum of Civics to develop a comprehensive plan for Houston’s public spaces and, in his words, “to stimulate civic pride and to combine forces for the betterment and beautification of Houston.” One of the Forum’s projects was the citywide planting of crepe myrtles, roses, and shade trees, all of which were donated by Will Hogg.

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The Hogg estate bequeathed the building to the University of Texas in 1939 with the stipulation that it continue to be used for educational purposes. When the River Oaks Garden Club purchased the Forum of Civics building, the UT Board of Regents stipulated that the Club “carry on the educational work directed primarily to stimulating knowledge and love of gardening, aiding in the protection of native plants and birds, and encouraging civic planting and planning.”

In the ensuing years, the River Oaks Garden Club has carried out this charge. The Forum building has been home to horticultural workshops, flower shows, and in conjunction with the annual Azalea Trail, educational exhibits. The Club has also established model gardens on the Forum grounds for demonstration purposes. The first such garden, a Victory Garden, was planted during World War II to encourage Houstonians to grow their own vegetables. In 1955, three formal gardens designed by J. Allen Myers, Jr. and Herbert Skogland were installed. The club later installed two additional, more informal gardens: one of native Texas plants, and another of seasonal plantings.



“Blooms of Spring in Full Swing,” it’s Azalea Time! Celebrate the arrival of spring in Houston at River Oaks Garden Club’s 82nd Annual Azalea Trail, Friday, March 10, – Sunday, March 12, 11am – 5pm. Each year, the Azalea Trail attracts thousands of visitors from Texas and surrounding states, providing access to some of the city’s most impressive residences and gardens, all located within the River Oaks neighborhood.

This year’s Azalea Trail will include seven locations: four private residences, Bayou Bend, Rienzi, and River Oaks Garden Club’s Forum of Civics Building. The opening will be held on Friday, March 10 at 10:30 AM at the front gate of Bayou Bend Gardens, 2940 Lazy Lane. This year’s trail will honor all past chairman of previous Azalea Trails.

Invite friends and make a day of it as you gather grand ideas for your own homes and gardens! Tickets are $20 before March 1 and $25 after March 1. They can be purchased at the Forum of Civics at 2503 Westheimer, retail outlets around Houston, and at the event destinations during the trail.

Azalea Trail


Azalea Trail Home and Garden Tour

Click on the pictures below to read more about each trail stop location.
The Azalea Trail home and garden tour locations for 2014 are:

2503 Westheimer Road 1406 Kirby Drive 4016 Inverness Drive 6102 Crab Orchard Road
River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics
Building & Gardens
2503 Westheimer Road
1406 Kirby Drive
4016 Inverness Drive 6102 Crab Orchard Road
2239 Troon Road 2940 Lazy Lane 5221 Pine Forest Road
2239 Troon Road Bayou Bend
2940 Lazy Lane or
6003 Memorial Drive
5221 Pine Forest Road


About the Azalea

Azalea is the name given to the various spectacular flowering shrubs (genus Rhododendron) of the Heath family that are in full bloom each spring in Houston, Texas. These showy flowers flourish at seven Houston locations in varying shades of pink, purple, white, red, and yellow and are a magnificent sight to behold.

In 1927, the River Oaks Garden Club was organized by 27 residents of the new River Oaks area. It was not until 1935 that they held the first Garden Pilgrimage as it was called then. Learn more (PDF).

View Brochure (PDF)

Ticket Information

March 7, 8, 9, 2014
Friday thru Sunday
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seven Admissions……………………
(Bayou Bend, Rienzi, 4 Private Residences)
Admission to the Forum of Civics if Free

Sales before March 1………………..
Single Site Admission………………..
(Available at each entrance)



River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics
2503 Westheimer Road
Houston, Texas 77098

Another Place in Time
The Arbor Gate – Tomball, TX
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens  – Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor &
Education Center and the Cottage
Buchanan’s Native Plants
Buffalo Hardware Company
Condon Gardens Nursery & Patio Shop
Cornelius Nurseries
Elaine Turner – CityCentre location
The Empty Vase of Houston
Enchanted Forest – Richmond, TX
Enchanted Gardens – Richmond, TX
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Indulge Décor
Leisure Learning Unlimited
Leonard Rutan
The Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Randalls – all Houston area locations
Rice Epicurean Market – Fountain View
River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics
River Oaks Plant House
Tanglewood Gifts and Stationery
Thompson + Hanson
Village Flowery
Wabash Antiques & Feed
  • Wheelchair access is only available at Forum of Civics, Bayou Bend Lazy Lane entrance and Rienzi, and is NOT available at private homes and gardens.
  • Photos can be taken outside only. No interior photos or tripods allowed.
  • Tickets can be purchased at all Trail entrances.
  • No strollers, food, or drinks are allowed in Azalea Trail properties.
  • Smoking is prohibited at all locations.
  • Tickets are non-refundable

Restrooms are located at Forum of Civics ,
Bayou Bend Gardens and Rienzi.

About River Oaks Garden Club

River Oaks Garden Club is a member of The Garden Club of America and was founded in 1927. The club has made many contributions to the Houston community in the areas of conservation, horticulture, education, and civic beautification. Proceeds from The Azalea Trail support these ongoing projects:

• Maintenance of the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building and Gardens (the gardens are open to the public).

• Maintenance of the 14-acre gardens of Bayou bend, the former estate of Miss Ima Hogg and now the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

• Continuation of the Bayou Bend Gardens Endowment, a charitable trust for the perpetual maintenance of the gardens. The endowment is also supported by public contributions.

• Hosting of the annual Sadie Gwin Blackburn Environmental Seminar, which is open to the public (admission is free).

• Publication of A Garden Book for Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast.

In 2011, the River Oaks Garden Club made contributions to the following: Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Camp for All, Student Conservation Association, Peckerwood Garden, Quentin Mease Hospital, The Harris School, Tanglewood Park, River Oaks Park.