Studley Flower Gardens was established at its current 82 Wakefield Street location in Rochester, NH by Joshua Studley.
We know little about Joshua Studley from online sources, but we know he was born in Rockland, MA, moved to Rochester in 1919 and later married Rochester native, Norma McCrillis.
Joshua became a prominent Rochester resident, serving on the Governor’s Council, the Rochester City Council and served one term as Mayor of Rochester during the 1940s.
According to Foster’s Daily Democrat, Joshua Studley was also the Red Cross local chairman and he lost a house and greenhouse, at another property he owned on Portland Street, to the great fire that swept and destroyed much of Rochester in 1947. The fire burned for nine days and in all, it spanned an area of about nine and a half miles long and one and a half miles wide, extending from the foot of Chesley Mountain in Farmington, through Rochester and into Berwick. In Rochester, 38 houses were destroyed and many others were seriously damaged.
Mercifully, the central downtown area of Rochester was mostly unscathed and the Studley Flower Gardens property at 82 Wakefield Street was spared.
Rochester Courier Archives note the death of Joshua Studley as June 9, 1952.
After Joshua’s death, his wife Norma became the president of Studley Flower Gardens and continued on with the cut flowers and greenhouses. Norma Studley later remarried, becoming Norma Currier.
In 1971, Pieter and Betty Jane Meulenbroek bought Studley Flower Gardens from Joshua Studley’s widow, Norma Currier.
Pieter Meulenbroek, a native of Holland, studied in horticulture and first came to the United States on a work visa to work at Lexington Gardens in Massachusetts, where he met his future wife, Betty Jane. The couple married and moved to Holland for a couple of years. On their return to the US, they looked to buy a greenhouse on the East Coast and Studley Flower Gardens was the answer.
After purchasing the business, Pieter and Betty Jane eventually welcomed and nurtured three sons, David, Jeffrey and Peter while they simultaneously nurtured and grew the business. Yet, despite the demands of work and family, Pieter and Betty Jane still found time to demonstrate commitment to community, serving on numerous area non-profit boards and commissions, such as Rochester Chamber of Commerce, the Gafney Home, Rochester Rotary, CORE, the precursor to Rochester Main Street.
During this time, Pieter and Betty Jane had the savvy and foresight to recognize environmental and industry changes that would have ultimately affected the family business. Strategically responding to the oil crisis of the 1970’s and seeing the beginning of a flood of imported flowers grown overseas entering the US market, Pieter and Betty Jane chose to transition their core business somewhat away from growing cut flowers to focus more on house plants and took the opportunity to establish the landscaping arm of the business in the 1980s.
When David and Jeffrey reached high school and even throughout college at the University of New Hampshire, they worked in the greenhouses at Studley’s. They learned the family business and absorbed their parents’ strong work ethic, though neither of them chose horticulture as their field of study. Their younger brother Peter has chosen a different field. Jeffrey studied history and David studied philosophy and international relations, and both enjoyed foreign travel.
It was in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, that Jeffrey met Molly — she was a student from the Midwest who also liked traveling. She came back with him to Rochester, and also began working for Pieter and Betty Jane, managing sales for Studley’s garden center. Molly and Jeffrey eventually married in 2002.
>>What Was It Like Growing Up At Studley’s? See David’s Story | See Jeffrey’s Story
After nearly four decades and upon their retirement in 2008, Pieter and Betty Jane sold the business to David and Jeffrey, creating a second-generation family business. Jeffrey became the President with a focus on greenhouse operations, David became Vice President, overseeing landscaping operations and Molly became General Manager with a focus on marketing and administration.
Jeffrey, Molly & David Meulenbroek – The Second Generation
It’s been a family affair all the way, with the Meulenbroek boys having grown up in the business and with Molly working alongside us for so many years, we are now synchronized as the second-generation team and eager to embrace the future together. 2014 turned out to be a big year for the Meulenbroek family and for business development. On May 28, 2014, David, Jeffrey and Molly were honored at a ceremony where Studley Flower Gardens was awarded the NH Small Business Administration’s Family Owned Business of the Year.
From September – November of 2014, we embarked on a major reconstruction of our retail space at 82 Wakefield Street, the first significant renovation to the structure in nearly three decades. As a downtown business within a historic district, we were humbled when Rochester Economic Development Manager, Karen Pollard qualified the renovation project as an investment that, “…will contribute to economic and social vitality and preserve our community’s cultural and historic character in the Historic District.”
With building renovations complete, we held a grand re-opening event in January to reveal our new retail space, hosting a Business After Hours with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
Also in 2015, our company’s eCommerce operations were strategically reorganized from three separate third-party industry provided websites, to reside under a single umbrella website at studleys.com, to offer our customers greater convenience and a wider, more exclusive selection of Studley’s branded products and services.
The move was substantial and dynamic within our industry, allowing us to streamline and showcase all channels of our business, greater control of content, branding leverage and real-time response to customer needs and preferences, not to mention greater retention of business profits, which historically had to be passed through to the former third-party industry site owners.
Our tagline is, “The difference will delight you,” and we work hard every day to live up to this. By investing in a proprietary website and eCommerce solution, our goal was to make it easier for you to place orders directly through studleys.com, where we have greater quality control and ownership of customer service.
We introduced mail-order plants to our website, making hundreds of Studley-grown house plants available for order online. We now ship right from our greenhouse direct to our customers’ doorsteps – all over the United States!
We invested in another micro piece of local real estate, securing space at the fabulous Fiddlehead Farms Marketplace in Somersworth, NH to open a kiosk location. Here we offer Fiddlehead shoppers the convenience of an ever-changing and exclusive selection of fresh-cut flowers and plants right in-store! We collaborated with our friends at everyone’s favorite local gastropub, Revolution Tap Room & Grill in Rochester, to offer Plant Night classes. We’ve held classes at Revolution for a few months now, with many selling out in the first few days. The fun has only just begun!
Today, Studley’s celebrates 90 years in business.
As one of the longest-running family-owned businesses in town, we’re proud to be a mainstay of the community for more than 90 years. Since its inception in 1928, Studley’s has grown to now serve the greater Seacoast and Lakes region with:
Florist Services – accommodating local, national and international delivery
Wedding Services – including free design consultations, online planning resources, DIY wedding flower options, and plant rentals
Retail Shop – open year-round featuring seasonal gifts, potted and blooming plants, fresh-cut grab & go flowers, seeds, bulbs, and gardening accessories
Garden Center – with an extensive selection of annual and perennial plants, much of which is grown on-site in our greenhouses
Greenhouse Division – offering a selection of hundreds of plants available in-store or online through our mail order service, as well as plant maintenance services to local business
Landscaping Division – offering full-service commercial and residential landscape design, property maintenance, irrigation services, and hardscape installation.
Kiosk Location – with an ever-changing and exclusive selection of fresh-cut flowers and plants available at Fiddlehead Farms in Somersworth, NH
Onsite & Offsite Tutorial Classes – for schools, clubs and popular Plant Night events in cooperation with local gastropub, Revolution Tap Room & Grill
Today, Pieter and Betty Jane are enjoying retirement while traveling, still spending time in the garden and in the regular company of their grandchildren. The family business remains close to their heart, but they are content to maintain a supportive role from afar, appearing onsite from time to time to cheer us on, the second generation.
As second-generation Meulenbroeks, following the example set by our parents Pieter and Betty Jane, we remain community-minded and committed to our industry.
David is a past president of the board of Rochester Main Street.
Jeffrey is a former president of the NH Plant GrowersAssociation (NHPGA) and serves on the steering committee for Plant Something NH.
Molly also serves on the steering committee for Plant Something NH. She chairs the Rochester Historic District Commission and recently received a Rochester Arts award for her work on behalf of the Commission to save and renovate the Rochester City Hall annex. She serves as a committee volunteer for Rochester Main Street and as a member of the Riverwalk Committee. As a member of the Society of American Florists (SAF), Molly also traveled last year to Washington, DC to meet with lawmakers, as an advocate for the floral industry.
Collaboratively and on behalf of the business, we maintain memberships with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Rochester Main Street, the NH Plant Growers Association (NHPGA), the NH Landscape Association, Society of American Florists and The National Association of Landscape Professionals.
It is our pleasure to be an official sponsor of Plant Something NH, a program of NHPGA, with a mission to educate the public about the health, environmental and economic benefits of plants.
We enjoy supporting community events such as, Rochester Gay Pride Day, serving as the host location for Rochester Main Street’s Wine in the Garden / Beer in the Woods and Festival of Trees events.
You’ll find us active with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
We’re proud to consistently employ anywhere from 12 to 24 local people on an annual basis. That range of employees varies with the demand of the seasons, but some are employed full-time and many have been with us since the days of Pieter and Betty Jane. We are grateful for all that each one of them brings to our operation – their conscientiousness is inherent in our brand and most certainly contributes to our success.
The same can be said of our loyal customers, again many whom have been with us for decades. Over the years we’ve been privileged to play a role in the lives of so many, where our flowers and services have served to mark thousands of milestone events.
Join The Celebration Fun
In celebration and appreciation of those thousands of precious moments we have shared, we’re giving back all year with contests and giveaways each month. Join the fun – keep an eye on our newsletters and our Facebook page for details! On behalf of our entire family, we thank you for sharing in our history and trusting us with your memories. We look forward to delighting our customers and flourishing for many more years to come!
With gratitude from David, Jeffrey, & Molly