Updated: Jul 19
Before Victoria's Garden settled into our current location in Downtown Rapid City, the building itself had its own colorful history that goes back nearly 100 years.
Rapid City Fruit Company
In 1920, 320 Seventh Street was built as the first cold storage facility in the Black Hills. The Rapid City Fruit Company was responsible for the refrigeration of produce and ice for the better portion of western South Dakota. Since the building was located adjacent to the railroad tracks that run through town, it became a hub for the distribution of goods throughout the West River region. Even today, you can see hints of the original architecture, such as the old elevator shaft. Because of the impact the RC Fruit had on local commerce, in 1993 it was added to the National Register of Historical Places.
The building has seen its fair share of occupants over the years, though the exact dates are unclear after many records were lost or destroyed. After the original owner sold it in 1935, it became a warehouse for a tobacco company for several years. Sometime in the mid-1960's, it was used as a storage facility for the Milo Barber Transportation Company (aka the original owners of the bus depot next door to us!). At some point, the warehouse stored the belongings of soldiers who were deployed. In the 1970's, the building was occupied by Crown Candy, a wholesale candy distributor. Crown Candy was actually the tenant of the building during Rapid City's devastating 1972 Flood. Reports from the time show that the floodwaters never reached the building, but it had come within one block. By the 1990's, the building was mostly vacant, but did serve as a storage facility and hosted the occasional auction or art show.
Over the years, the RC Fruit building went through its fair share of changes. The biggest would likely be the removal of the original elevator, the construction (and removal) of a lean-to that took up the entire eastern side of the building, and the upgrade to a patio with an awning instead of a loading bay. Though the hardwood floors inside are original, you can see the effects of wear and warping from the heavy storage bins that were used to move products to and from the bay. Our favorite artifacts, though, are the many names and messages written in marker on many of the wood panel walls, ceilings, and bathrooms from former employees of the building. Some people may think of it as graffiti, but we see it as an archive from the past!
Brief History of Victoria's Garden
On February 1st, 1989, Rapid City local Vicki Bierman bought a flower shop formerly known as Terrie's Floral. Victoria's Garden was located at 609 Mt. Rushmore Road in the Art Rose Building (now occupied by several businesses, including Staple & Spice). At one point, the shop was relocated to East St. Patrick Street, but Vicki was constantly keeping her eyes out for a larger and more central space, and one day, she found it. In the early 2000's, Vicki attended an art show that was held at 320 Seventh Street. The space was decorated in pieces of art illuminated with twinkle lights, making the old warehouse feel rather enchanting, despite the blocked off parts of the building that were in a state of distress. At that point, the building had not yet been renovated from its decades of use (and decade of vacancy), but Vicki saw
something special in it regardless. In her mind, she could see her business one day moving into this historic piece of Rapid City. But she simply spent her evening enjoying the displayed art, and went home feeling inspired.
It wasn't until several months later that Vicki received a call, and it was from Fate. Well, it was from the owner of RC Fruit Building. Because Vicki had never expressed interest in the building outside of her own personal thoughts, she couldn't believe it when the owner said to her, "I'd like for your flower shop to be a tenant in my building located at 320 Seventh Street." It was destiny. Vicki and the landlord took the next year to make the arrangements for the move, and Victoria's Garden eventually moved to their current home.
Will this be our home forever? We certainly hope so. We love our central location downtown, our neighbors (Elite Hair Design and O&A Farmhouse), and the colorful history we have been so lucky to add to. We definitely don't see ourselves leaving anytime soon. So, the next time you come visit to smell the flowers and stroll through our garden, take a moment to glance into Rapid City's past!
The Flower Goddesses