By Mona McCroskey
In 1914, George and Addie Allan moved to Prescott for the health of their son George. They also moved their greenhouse and flower shop business from Princeton, New Jersey to Prescott. The Allan's purchased the old Sanders ranch in Miller Valley and built their first greenhouse at what is now 350 Whipple Street, in the area known as Allandale.
The business then moved to the corner of South Montezuma and Walker Streets, where a second greenhouse and flower shop were built. It was a large operation, with three residences, an enormous greenhouse, a boiler room housing a steam system to heat the greenhouse, packing and potting sheds, and a retail flower shop. The Allan's grew everything for the shop, plus a surplus of carnations for wholesale. S.R. Allan, or "Dick," remembers helping pick and pack thousands of carnations into boxes, and delivering them to the depot for shipment all over the country via railway express.
It was at the Montezuma Street residence that young George and his sweetheart, Eleanor J. Cotton of Prescott, were married amidst an indoor garden of flowers. In 1929, under the name of George Allan and Son, the family built their largest greenhouse complex on five acres of rich and fertile soil in Miller Valley. The greenhouses were built in an L-shape; all five acres were cultivated with water pumped from a spring on Miller Creek.
George and Eleanor raised their three children, George, Dickie and Patricia, at the Montezuma Street location, which, after 1929, housed only a flower shop. It was "a nice spot with cottonwood trees and a swimming hole in nearby Granite Creek," where Dick grew up with horses and room to recycle wagon parts that were discarded as the automobile came into vogue. He could ride from the family home to the greenhouse in Miller Valley on unpaved streets.
Through the years the Allan's had flower shops in Miller Valley, on Montezuma Street, in the Hassayampa Hotel, and in 1948, an expanded retail shop at 107 South Cortez Street, where the old Sun Drug site was remodeled and furnished with a walk-in beer box from a bar on Whiskey Row, signaling the beginning of the end for both the many drug stores and bars that were a part of the downtown Prescott scene.
George and Eleanor moved into a home at 226 South Cortez Street to be closer to the flower shop. The Western Union office in the same block was convenient for sending and receiving FTD orders, a far cry from the horse and wagon FTD deliveries made by George Allan in Princeton when the service was initiated in 1910!
The only holiday observed by the family in a timely fashion was the Fourth of July, "because people didn't send flowers." On other holidays, family meals were often served late at night, or even the following day. As a youth, Dick Allan delivered flowers to Prescott homes on what amounted to a regular route on Mother's Day, Christmas, and Easter. Most families had relatives in other parts of the country, and the Allan's business was good. Eleanor Allan received the orders and took great care in filling them. Blossoms falling short of her rigid standard for freshness could be salvaged in the alley behind the flower shop!
Although the business has now passed into the ownership of another old Prescott family, it is fitting that its original name has been retained.
Mona Lange McCroskey is an oral historian at Sharlot Hall Museum. This account is based on an oral history interview with S.R."Dick" Allan on November 21, 1996, available in the Museum archives.