WEIR FLORIST, Brooklyn Heights

by Kevin Walsh

YOU have probably never heard of James Weir, he lived and died in the 19th Century. But his fingerprints can still be found in Brooklyn. Montague Street in recent years has seen a frequent turnover as one business replaces the other, but a pair of stores have been here for several decades now, the original Haagen Dazs ice cream shoppe for one, and James Weir Florists at #107. I believe it has been in the Heights since the 1950s. In 1971, the owner was socially conscious and placed several “message” posters in the window (in a previous location), which angered at least one local who attacked the place with firebombs. Things were somewhat quieter when I slouched past on December 4, 2021.

That’s right, the awning says 1853. James Weir opened a floral business with plant nurseries and greenhouses in Yellow Hook, in what is now Bay Ridge, that year. After a yellow fever epidemic struck the area, taking a heavy toll, Weir proposed renaming Yellow Hook as Bay Ridge, since it was built along a hill facing Upper New York Bay. The region formally approved the name change in 1853, which turned out to be a historic year at least in Kings County. The first Weir greenhouse appeared in 1880, and the second, designed by George Curtis Gillespie, is the one seen at 5th Avenue and 25th Street opposite Green-Wood Cemetery. It’s been under renovation for several years and sadly, it seems nowhere nearly finished.

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Zalman Lev January 14, 2022 - 8:33 am

You may want to clear up the text – or not, up to you – to indicate that the firebombing attacks took place at an earlier location and not at the 107 Montague Street address. Weir did not move into that space until sometime between Decemeber 2017 and July 2019.

Kevin Walsh January 14, 2022 - 11:08 am

all right, done.

M.Apple January 14, 2022 - 11:58 am

Thank you for this reminder about Montague Street and the Weir Florist shop and their history. I didn’t know they proposed getting the Bay Ridge name initiated.

chris January 14, 2022 - 4:43 pm

I remember that guy.In the ’60s people were always smashing his windows
because of the screeds he was always putting up in his windows.I dont know
what they were about.I bet his insurance company must have loved him.
I remember thinking that grown ups sure can whip themselves into a frenzy
over stupid shit.

Peter January 14, 2022 - 6:09 pm

When I was in school there was this kid named Weir who got angry if anyone pronounced his name “wear.” He insisted it was pronounced “wire.”

therealguyfaux January 16, 2022 - 1:00 am

The former Olympic skater (who’s now a broadcaster) pronounces his name “Johnny WEER”

Joe Fliel January 15, 2022 - 12:11 am

Sometime after the firebombing, Weir moved across the street to 155 Montague until September 2017. I bought a corsage for my son’s prom date there in June 2016.

Pi January 15, 2022 - 12:49 pm

When I first moved to Brooklyn in the early 80’s I worked at the James Weir Florist at 160 Montague Street. Bernard and Charlotte Atkins owned the shop at the time and they were very kind. I remember Mr. A. (as I used to call him) putting up his handwritten signs in the window. He would have loved Twitter but back then this was his form of free speech.

One day I came back from lunch, a day that I did not go to the Lichee Nut next door and mentioned that I really admired the cutest little art deco pink striped chair with matching ottoman over at the Salvation Army Store where Metrotech is now. Later that night my bell rang and to my surprise, there was Mrs. A with the florist van and two of the guys from the shop delivering that very chair to me. She was one of a kind.

Anonymous January 16, 2022 - 7:51 pm

Great historical note, and to know that there are still great people bringing beauty and consciousness from that flower shop is something to celebrate! Congrats

Frequent shopper January 17, 2022 - 9:34 am

This is my favorite store to explore plants Estela, the owner is awesome. She works tirelessly and is always going the extra mile. If you haven’t been in her shop you’re missing out get there soon

Ezra January 21, 2022 - 11:39 am

Last time I walked down Montague (three weeks after you) I was happy to see that Weir was still there (in the new location). But the rest of Montague seems to have had a rough pandemic. Lots of boarded up and empty storefronts.


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