CNPHS Historic Recognition Program
A Hidden Treasure
By Ross Lumpkin, Trustee
Those of us who rely on the internet or phone service to order flowers instead of paying a visit to a local florist miss out on the old-fashioned retail experience. And if you live in Port Washington, I am not just talking about going out to smell the flowers. I’m talking about a hidden treasure from 100 years ago.
Hint #1: You can find it at S.F. Falconer, Florist.
Hint #2: It’s not a flower.
Hint #3: You need to know a little local history.
Fred Falconer’s grandfather, Simon Frederick Falconer, came to the US in the early 20th century from Scotland where he had been trained in gardening and agriculture. He found work in Jericho and later as the head grounds keeper and greenhouse supervisor at the Harry Guggenheim Estate in Sands Point. He must have been politically savvy and a model employee, for when he decided to resign and go into business for himself, he departed on very good terms.
So good, in fact, that Harry gave the young entrepreneur his whole-hearted support. First, he turned his considerable estate business over to him, a gesture that paved the way for other estate holders in Sands Point to do business with S.F. Falconer, Florist. Then came our hidden treasure. Since Harry was now outsourcing his business, he gave Simon the Guggenheim greenhouse he had been supervising.
They moved it to Simon’s property on South Maryland where it still functions as one of four greenhouses. The exact year of the move and of the founding of his business is between 1920 and 1924, depending on whom you are talking to. It is also a matter of credible speculation that Simon himself may have built the greenhouse for the Guggenheims five or ten years before.
Falconer has been a family business in the truest sense. As much a gathering place for the family as it is a business, it has been passed from father to son for three generations from Simon to Fred and now to Fred Jr. Spouses and siblings were always a part of its operation. Children grew up there, learning the business from the bottom up.
Now that the Guggenheim greenhouse has passed its 100th anniversary and S.F. Falconer is about to, Fred has placed a Historical Designation Plaque from the Cow Neck Historical Society in the greenhouse to honor the occasion and simplify your treasure hunt. If you do visit, please take a moment to smell the flowers and consider the history around you.