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E. Gurney Hill (1847-1933)

E. Gurney Hill

Edward Gurney Hill was born in Rochdale, England in 1847, and when he was four years old his family emigrated to America, settling in New York. Hill’s father, Joseph, worked as a nurseryman there, and Gurney also followed that line of work. In 1870, he was enticed to come “out west” from the east to Richmond, Indiana. Here he worked at the Cascade Gardens Nursery in the south part of town, later becoming the manager. Soon after, the rest of his family relocated to Richmond.

In 1881, Gurney Hill and his father, Joseph, started a new business called Hill and Company with two greenhouses near their home in what was then known as Linden Hill. That house still exists at 2037 East Main in the midst of “Millionaire’s Row.” This was the start of a company that would grow to become a leader in the worldwide floricultural industry. Hill, and later his son, Joseph H., would build greenhouses near Glen Miller Park, then move the entire operation to the west side of town near Richmond State Hospital and still further to Peacock Road.

Over the course of his more than fifty year career, E. G. Hill was a leader in hybridizing roses, winning internationsl awards and medals often. He was also one of the founders and third president of the Society of American Florists, and he served as a president of the American Rose Society, the American Carnation Society, and the American Chysanthemum Society. Locally he was one of Richmond’s first Park Commissioners, and he supervised early plantings at Earlham College and Earlham Cemetery.

He died in 1933, and in 1937 the city dedicated a fountain in his honor in the Rose Garden at Glen Miller Park.