Lens on History: A lovely violation

October 10, 2018

Holm and Olson Flowers was one of the first tenants of the new 100 First Avenue Building when it bloomed in March 1940. Located at the corner of First Street and First Avenue Southwest, no one knew this innocent seedling would one day cross-pollinate to a world of crime.

Shop manager Robert Holm placed several flower boxes in a showy exotic display at the front of the store. This act of beautification hit a weedy patch when it was discovered that the boxes were a fragrant violation of an 1873 ordinance.

Judge William LaPlante gaveled Holm guilty of obstructing a city sidewalk. Assistant city attorney Warren Eustis summed it as a “lovely” violation, but a violation of the law nonetheless.

Robert Holm did not wilt away from the $10 fine and soon began a fight to change the ordinance. The flower boxes, however, became an endangered species.

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