ASHLAND -- The art of floral design or floristry has been around for centuries. Ancient civilizations including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans influenced cultivation and the art of floral design and were the first to cut and place flowers in a vase.
They did this to add color to their surroundings. Egyptians used flowers for personal adornment, gifts and for decorations and offerings during festivals and religious events. They also wove flowers, foliage and fruit together to create wreaths and garlands. Chaplets were garlands or wreaths worn in the hair. Vases, bowls, and baskets of flowers, fruits and vegetables decorated banquet tables and were used for offerings.
The Egyptians collected flowers and plant materials that flourished in the Nile Valley such as iris, rose, lily, narcissus, and lotus. Other plant materials included ivy, palm, and papyrus.
The first flower shop in the United States opened prior to 1851 and flower arrangements used here were really for the same purposes as the Egyptians. As early as 1906, there was a florist located in Ashland on West Walnut Street and it’s interesting to note its location. There were also greenhouses located on West Walnut Street and at 509 W. Main St.
The floral shop and greenhouses were located near the town creek which was used as a water source but also near the interurban line which provided a means of transporting flowers out of town. The town creek was reportedly better for roses because of the water quality at that time and many businesses and residences did not yet have indoor plumbing.
The floral shop on West Walnut Street was first owned by Emil and August Lamprecht and the demand for wedding flowers grew quickly as the wealthy families in Ashland wanted to have the most lavish arrangements. Many funeral accounts also included statements about beautiful and very expensive floral arrangements.
Curtis Rittenhouse worked at the floral shop and later became a one-half partner with Gustavus A. Karper when the Lamprecht brothers sold the business. The business then became the Ashland Floral Company. Will Duff reported in his 1930 book that the greenhouses covered 2½ acres of land at that time.
Paul Karper, son of Gustavus, returned from service in WW1 in 1919 and joined the family business. He opened a retail outlet in the Mason Building at 151 W. Main Street.
In the meantime, Henry Overeynder purchased the Rittenhouse half of the operation and the two florists operated side by side for a while. When Paul Karper died in 1938, it was too much for his wife to take over with 3 children so she then sold the business to Overeynder.
In February 1956, the Overeynder family sold to the Robert and Dorothy Studeny and they renamed it Ashland Florists and Greenhouse. The Studenys struggled in the first few years, but were eventually successful and operated the business for 38 years.