Hillenmeyer Landscape Services was founded in 1841 in Lexington, Kentucky. We’ve shared our most significant milestones below to help you understand our story and what makes Hillenmeyer the company it is today. Yes, it’s long, but we proudly have 175+ years to cover!
- In 1841, Francis Xavier Hillenmeyer, a nurseryman from France, had settled in Lexington, Ky and orders a shipment of small fruits and fruit trees from France, marking the beginning of Hillenmeyer Nurseries as we know it today.
- In 1846, Francis buys his first tract of land and uses the 20 acres for test orchards, vineyards and nursery plants, with his business centered around growing fruit.
- In 1847, Francis’ son, Hector F. Hillenmeyer, buys a 100-acre plot in nearby Sandersville (present-day Lexington). He maintains a vineyard and peach orchard, and his nursery stock includes newly popular landscaping elements like trees, vines and shrubs. Spraying for insects and fungus is an emerging practice.
- In 1872, Hector begins keeping detailed weather records, which are the only such records being kept in Lexington in the late 1800s.
- In 1910, Hector’s sons, Louis and Walter Hillenmeyer, become the third-generation owners. They continue the traditional nursery stock of fruit and fruit trees and begin including ornamental and decorative trees as well, with an enhanced emphasis on landscaping and beautification.
- Throughout the 1920s, Hillenmeyer’s client base grows when the company begins selling through the Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog, as well as their own catalog. During this time, the nursery is the largest recipient of mail through the Lexington Post Office.
- In 1927, Walter becomes president of the American Association of Nurserymen, serving until 1928. Couples with the mail order business, this spurs the Hillenmeyer name to spread across the United States.
- In 1941, the company marks 100 years in business with a special 100th anniversary edition of the Hillenmeyer Nurseries annual catalog.
- In 1953, Louis and Walter’s sons, Louis Hillenmeyer Jr. and Walter Hillenmeyer Jr., join the business. There’s a decreased emphasis on fruit trees, and an increased emphasis on ornamental elements and landscaping.
- In 1951, Hillenmeyer becomes one of the first nurseries in the area to move into retail with a Garden Center, a new form of merchandising in the nursery industry that originated in California. The nursery later opens its second Garden Center on the south side of Lexington.
- In 1951, Louis Sr.’s other son, Robert Hillenmeyer, joins his father and brother, Louis Jr.
- In 1964, Walter Jr. leaves the company to join First Security Nation Bank and Trust Co.
- In 1965, Louis Sr. passes away, leaving the Hillenmeyer business to his sons. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the company expands into ornamental plants while the production of fruit and fruit trees declines. Hillenmeyer becomes involved in commercial maintenance of industrial properties, including IBM, Trane, Square D and Sylvania.
- From 1974 to 1975, Louis Jr. serves as president of the American Association of Nurserymen. His death in 1983 leaves Robert and Louis Jr.’s wife, Martha, owners of Hillenmeyer Nurseries.
- In 1985, Robert sells his half of the business to Louis Jr.’s three sons, Louis III, Chris and Stephen Hillenmeyer.
- By 1991, the nursery grows has grown from $3 million to $7 million in annual revenue and Hillenmeyer Nurseries celebrates 150 years in business.
- In the 1990’s, Hillenmeyer expands operations to maintain turf areas on Central Kentucky’s most prestigious horse farms.
- In 2000, Louis III becomes the first third generation president of the American Nursery and Landscape Association (formerly known as the American Association of Nurserymen), serving from 2000-2001.
- In 2001, Chris and Stephen buy Louis III’s shares. Stephen later buys Chris’s half of the company. As focus shifts from a retail and growing operation to landscape design build, commercial and equine maintenance services, the name changes to Stephen Hillenmeyer Landscape Services.
- In 2007, Stephen’s son, Chase Hillenmeyer, joins the company.
- In 2016, Stephen Hillenmeyer Landscape Services celebrates 175 years of servicing beautiful landscapes. It is the second oldest business in Lexington and the second oldest plant nursery in the United States.
- In 2018, Stephen Hillenmeyer Landscape Services becomes Hillenmeyer Landscape Services.