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100 Years Ago Today – Flower Show at Bickmore Farms

Chester Times, April 17, 1916.

Chester Times, April 17, 1916.

The April 17, 1916 Chester Times carried a report of a horticultural exhibit at Bickmore Farms where Milton H. Bickley had a large nursery operation on his property at Palmer’s Corner (the corner of Providence and Rose Valley Roads).

The flower show became an annual event to which the public was invited every year on Palm Sunday.

Milton Horace Bickley owned, along with his father, a drug store at 4th and Market Streets in Chester. He purchased the 102-acre Cedar Lane Farm from James Miller in 1913 and called it Bickmore; a combination of his last name and his father, Mortimore Bickley’s first name. There, he raised a variety of flowers in 19 large greenhouses (300′ x 75′). There was a 75′ smokestack for the furnace used to heat the greenhouses.

The family also ran a poultry farm on the property. In 1916, there were regular advertisements placed in the Chester Times announcing “we have just installed a big hall incubator and decided to do some custom hatching. You can bring, or buy your eggs from us. We also have baby chicks for sale.”

Milton Bickley died in 1937.

In 1944, W. J. Messmer, a Chester florist, purchased the Bickmore nursery on the south side of Rose Valley Road. The purchase included 60,000 square feet of glass-enclosed greenhouses.

By 1954, the 15 acre site had been purchased by the Wallingford Development Company. When the nursery buildings were razed to make way for 22 houses, it took two blasts of dynamite to level the smokestack. The neighborhood was named Bickmore Hills. The first of the split level houses were completed by July and offered for sale at $15,590.

Bickley Druggist and Apothecary at 4th and Market Streets in Chester

Bickley Druggist and Apothecary at 4th and Market Streets in Chester

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