Philip Haas moved to College Point, New York, in 1880 from the Barvarian region of Germany at the age of 24. It was here in his newfound home where he started growing the flowers that gave him such joy. The land where he began his nursery was purchased from Mr. Stratton. The Strattons at that time owned a great deal of property in College Point, in fact a portion of what is now College Point was called Strattonport. This land which Philip purchased from Mr. Stratton was paid for with gold coins, as Mr. Stratton was quite adamant about accepting paper money. He built his first greenhouse in 1882 on the land bordered on the east and west by old 15th and 16th streets (now 124th and 125th streets) and on the north and south by what is now 25th Ave. and 25th Road.
Life in College Point was good to Philip, and the soil was fertile. In 1882 Philip was growing violets and other flowering plants which he took to market in Manhattan via the Long Island Railroad. The station stood on old 18th St. (now 127th St.). As Philip prospered he bought more land which eventually amounted to 2 1/2 acres. On that land he built 20 greenhouses. Some of them had been purchased from a plantation in North Carolina that had been destroyed during the Civil War. The greenhouses had laid idle for some twenty years until Philip purchased them and moved them to College Point.
The fields surrounding the greenhouses were used to grow carnations, baby's breath, mums, etc. In later years that land was primarily used to grow azaleas. In 1888 Philip married the lovely Elizabeth Kern with whom he had five children -- three girls and two boys. His sons, Philip, Jr. and Albert, were later to run the business from 1940-1961.
In 1910 Philip, Sr. purchased a truck to deliver his flowers. It was a very big event at the time. Although he could never master the skills of driving, his two sons made the daily deliveries to the market. Having the truck enabled my grandfather to increase production and sales fivefold. He was the first grower onLong Island to use a truck for deliveries.
Philip, Jr. (my grandfather) married Grace Delaney in 1919 with whom he was blessed with two sons, Philip III and Hilliard (my father). Hilliard married Anne Stolz of College Point in 1946. That union produced two sons, Hilliard, Jr. and myself, Stephen. Hilliard ran the business from 1961- 1974. In 1965 Hilliard, Jr. began a retail store at the nursery. In 1972 I took control of the retail department, and I am the current owner with my wife, Mary Lou. In 1974 we moved the store to its present location at 20-03 College Point Blvd., where we are happy to continue to serve the community of College Point, which we both love very much.
Our children, Dylan Haas and Kristin Tudor, lend a helping hand when needed. Dylan is running his own successful landscape and tree Care business for the past 7 years. Kristin recently launched a division of the business specializing in weddings and special events which includes not only floral decor but personalized favors, gifts and accessories. Check out her website at www.chicflorals.com.
Today every time I smell a lily or a gardenia, thoughts of Easters spent working in the greenhouses immediately spring into my mind. Go into a greenhouse, close the door and close out all of the violence and disturbances of the outside world. There is no noise and you are overcome with a great feeling of peace. Nature is talking through its fragrances, colors and beauty.
There is an old florist saying "Flowers whisper what words can never say." For me, it’s so very true.