Stephen Hillenmeyer Landscape Services was founded in Lexington, Ky., in 1841. 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!
- Francis Xavier Hillenmeyer, a nurseryman from France, settles in Lexington, Ky. He orders a shipment of small fruits and fruit trees from France in 1841, marking the beginning of Hillenmeyer Nurseries as we know it today.
- Francis buys his first tract of land in 1846 and uses the 20 acres for test orchards, vineyards and nursery plants, and most of his business centers around growing fruit.
- Francis’ son, Hector F. Hillenmeyer, buys a 100-acre plot in 1874 in nearby Sandersville (present-day Lexington). He maintains a vineyard and a 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.
- Hector begins keeping detailed weather records in 1872, 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.
- Hillenmeyer’s client base grows when the company begins selling through the Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog, as well as their own catalog, in the 1920s and throughout the Great Depression. During this time, the nursery is the largest recipient of mail through the Lexington Post Office.
- The mail order business coupled with Walter’s involvement with the American Association of Nurserymen in the 1920s, serving as president from 1927-1928, extends the Hillenmeyer name across the United States.
- Louis and Walter’s sons, Louis Hillenmeyer Jr. and Walter Hillenmeyer Jr., join the business in 1935. There’s a decreased emphasis on fruit trees, and an increased emphasis on ornamental elements and landscaping.
- The company marks 100 years in business in 1941 with a special 100th anniversary edition of the Hillenmeyer Nurseries annual catalog.
- In 1951, Hillenmeyerbecomes 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.
- Louis Sr.’s other son, Robert Hillenmeyer, joins his father and brother, Louis Jr., in 1951. Walter Jr. leaves the company in 1964 to join First Security Nation Bank and Trust Co. Louis Sr. passes away a year later, leaving the Hillenmeyerbusiness to his sons.
- The expansion into ornamental plants continues in the 1960s and 1970s 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.
- Louis Jr. also serves as president of the American Association of Nurserymen from 1974-1975. His death in 1983 leaves Robert and Louis Jr.’s wife, Martha, owners of Hillenmeyer Nurseries. Robert sells his half of the business in 1985 to Louis Jr.’s three sons, Louis III, Chris and Stephen Hillenmeyer.
- The nursery grows from a $3 million company to $7 million in annual revenue by Hillenmeyer Nurseries celebrates 150 years in business the same year.
- Hillenmeyerexpands operations to maintain turf areas on Central Kentucky’s most prestigious horse farms in the
- 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.
- Chris and Stephen buy Louis III’s shares in Stephen later buys Chris’s half of the company in 2001. With the change in focus from a retail and growing operation to landscape design build, commercial and equine maintenance services, the name changes to Stephen Hillenmeyer Landscape Services.
- With a continued focus on residential and commercial lawn care, Hillenmeyer purchases a Weed Man Lawn Care franchise in
- Stephen’s son Chase Hillenmeyer joins the company in 2007. His brother Seth, joins in Services include landscape design build, residential, commercial and equine lawn maintenance, and snow removal.
- Hillenmeyer expands its service offerings to include mosquito control in 2013 with the purchase of The Mosquito Authority franchise.
- Hillenmeyer adds its second Weed Man franchise in Nashville, Tenn., in 2015, continuing to diversify and expand the company’s portfolio.
- In 2016, Stephen Hillenmeyer Landscape Services celebrates its 175th It is the second oldest business in Lexington and the second oldest plant nursery in the United States.