The lot near the corner of 190th Street and Western Avenue, on the eastern edge of Torrance, isn’t much to look at now.
The paved vacant lot has only an empty restaurant building and lots of chain link fencing, and doesn’t look much like it did when Thomas H. Wright operated his greenhouses there.
Wright owned Wright’s Florist Shop in Los Angeles in the early 1900s. An ambitious businessman, he was known and respected among his peers, so much so that he was elected as the first president of the Florists’ Association in the city when its formation was announced in 1904.
The association of local florists presaged the formation of the familiar national network, Florists’ Transworld Delivery, or FTD. FTD started in 1910 as Florists’ Telegraph Delivery in Detroit, later moving to Downers Grove, Illinois, and growing into a global enterprise.
Wright already was a master flower grower, and frequent winner at the Southern California Horticultural Association’s annual garden show for his roses.
But he had a vision that went beyond his flower shop’s walls. He decided to specialize in producing two types of flowers, gardenias and orchids. He wanted to grow them in bulk and set up a network to distribute them nationwide.