MONTGOMERY – At 127 years of operation, Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens is one of Alabama’s oldest continually operating retailers.
William Burns Paterson, a Scottish immigrant, help found what is now Alabama State University and served as its second president. In 1890, Paterson combined a childhood love of flowers and an adult passion for education to build a small home and greenhouse operation called Rosemont Gardens on Tatum Street adjacent to the university. The profits helped support the Montgomery school and his family.
In 1892, he added a florist division. Rosemont Gardens’ single greenhouse grew to encompass five acres and remained in the Paterson family for 94 years. In the 1920s, the florist portion of Rosemont Gardens moved to Dexter Avenue, then in the 1940s to Perry Street. In 1966, Paterson’s Rosemont Gardens built its current location adjacent to their greenhouses just off Carter Hill Road. New owners modernized it again in 1984. In 1988, Jimmy and Myra Thompson bought Rosemont Gardens and renamed it Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens. Their children – Lamar Thompson and Martha Moore – are the current owners of the flower and gift shop.
“The Rosemont experience is something anybody from Montgomery can tell you about. From the conception in 1892 until today, Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens has such a rich history,” said manager Jerry Thrash, whose grandmother and mother also worked at Rosemont. “I’m proud I get to work in such a beautiful place with and for such great people.”
The Alabama Retail Association today honored Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens as an Alabama Centennial Retailer at the Alabama Retail Day awards ceremony in Birmingham. The business, which has been an Alabama Retail Association member since 1991, received a bronze plaque to place outside its store and a certificate suitable for display inside.
Rosemont Gardens was the first florist in the United States to ship flowers, Thrash said. “Flowers were grown here in Montgomery and shipped through the depot downtown” within the state and to neighboring states, he said. “In the last 15 to 20 years, there has been a revolution in how people send flowers and why they send flowers,” he added, referring to online ordering and fewer memorial flowers and more flowers sent on holidays and for thinking-about-you gifts.
“Our family acquired Rosemont Gardens from the Wilson family in the mid-80s,” said Rush Thompson, son of current owner Lamar Thompson. His sister, Camilla Austin, added, “It was such a privilege to learn at a young age about hard work and being part of the Rosemont’s family.”
Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Willie Durham said, “Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens gives other small, budding businesses hope that they too can survive, if they provide a good product and good services.”
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “For a business to survive the dramatic changes of the past century is a remarkable achievement. It is fitting to celebrate the enduring first-century contributions Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens has made to Montgomery and the surrounding communities.”
More articles about this retailer:
- History Rooted in Love: Florist prepares for busy Valentine’s Day (Feb. 9, 2018)
- Valentine’s Day one of the busiest days of the year for local florists (Feb. 13, 2017)
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,200 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.