Alden B. Dow began the design of a large standalone building for Smith’s Flowers in September 1954. The shop had been in its original location in the nearby Ashman Circle business district in Midland, Michigan for seven years. The new store would be situated just off the Circle on Ashman Street about a block away from the first church designed by Mr. Dow, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A contract was signed on February 15, 1955 for an estimated construction cost of $42,000, with Freeman and Shepherd of Midland named as general contractors. The façade features a line of display windows set back under narrow vertical plaster panels with aluminum channel dividers. The windows and plaster panels line up against a brick wall on the west end of the structure.
Inside the one-story 50 x 100 foot building, one is invited to explore display areas on four levels. A semi-circular pool occupies the front portion of the main floor. A curved brick wall rises up at the back of the pool; to the left of the brick wall are stairs leading to the second level. Another circular wall of white rises from the second to the third level, at which point the white circular wall forms an elongated “S” shaped display island. Directly behind and above the third level is the fourth level that overlooks the entire store.
At the time of the grand opening on June 16, 1955, the Midland Daily News reported that the flooring was foam green asphalt textured tile, the walls were pale yellow, vertical panels above the front and side display windows were painted azalea pink, and 15 Nelson bubble lamps were suspended from the ceiling.
Smith’s Flowers and Gifts is still in business today in their Dow-designed building and has been owned and operated by three generations of the Smith family — founder Rolland C. Smith, his son Donald, and currently by grandson Mark Smith.