Miller’s Flowers, founded by Ethel and Robert Miller, is Racine’s oldest flower shop. Originally, Racine Floral Company, the popular floral shop started out in a small wooden building on Taylor Avenue, but soon moved to the current, flourishing Downtown Racine location.
Before moving to Racine, Ethel began her floral career when she opened the first floral stand in Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel and traveled across the United States to study floral art. Ethel became a renowned florist and decorated for two weddings of A.J. Horlick’s daughters. When the Millers moved to Racine, Robert aided his wife when they began managing the Taylor Avenue greenhouses, near 20th Avenue, in 1907. The original flower deliveries were made by horse and wagon.
The Millers did not stay there long; Ethel didn’t like how far out in the country their greenhouses were. The Racine Floral Company was established October 14th, 1907 and in 1908 they moved their business to Downtown Racine.
In 1916, the present three-story building was erected. The building of brown, tapestried brick clearly displays the influence of the Prairie Style on a small commercial building in the historic 6th Street District. The Prairie architectural style can be seen in the ribbons of casement windows on the third story and the grouping of three windows with transoms on the second story. In 1928, the shop was remodeled in a modernistic design that can still be seen today. The inside boasts a handmade wrought iron staircase that was designed by Ethel.
Robert and Ethel’s son, Bob, recalled starting his business career as a boy. He started as a “jumper” for the Racine Floral Company, riding the delivery trucks and hopping off to deliver arrangements. When Bob returned from Cornell University in 1937 to learn the trade, the business name was changed to Miller’s Flowers.
During World War II, corsages were popular gifts; on Sundays over 600 individually made corsages would be completed and sold in four hours.
In 1944, when Ethel became ill, Bob took over and ran the store until 1978, when his daughter Hilary and son-in-law Mark Krejcha took over the business. Both Hillary and Mark studied at the American School of Floral Art in Chicago, Illinois. In 2008 Hilary uncovered the original stained glass sign. Like many other pieces in the flower shop, she had it restored to the authentic style of the original building.
The shop has continually been named the Best Flower Shop by voters in the Best of Racine County contest and is celebrating their 100-year anniversary at this site in 2016.