Have you ever seen “Englewood” flash on the front of our local city buses? Do you know where Englewood is? Or why we still use that designation on our bus route? Well, I sure did, so I looked into it. It all began with a widow named Jessie Knox, who was named the Mother of all the gardens in Butte.
When Mrs. Jessie Knox first arrived in Butte in 1891, she was told that the ground had been so poisoned with the deposit of smoke and silt from the mines and smelters that nothing would possible grow here. In a newspaper article in 1918, she recalled, “I shook my finger in the faces of those who told me that and said that I could make things grow here and would.”
As a young widow, she invested her savings and opened the Inverness Greenhouse in 1892, on a bit of property listed only as “two miles south of Butte” in the city directory. The greenhouse contained 10,000 feet of glass and was located on a three-cornered lot on Florence Avenue. Knox started slowly planting trees on her lot; and indoors, growing first geraniums, then chrysanthemums and carnations. No one believed anything beautiful could come out of Butte, until in 1896 she exhibited 25 varieties of chrysanthemums, all grown in her greenhouse. Soon, she raised enough money to plant a rose garden and demonstrated that roses, too, could be grown in Butte. She gave her roses away to all visitors to her Inverness greenhouses, a precedence she set for her development of the Rose Garden of Hospitality at the Panama-California Exposition in California
Jessie Knox was called the woman who redeemed Butte and she claimed the title proudly. She was credited as the Mother of All Gardens in Butte, by encouraging the planting of beautiful gardens on the Flat, in the area she herself named Englewood. She even persuaded Senator Clark to build the Englewood car lines all the way south to her greenhouses.
The Englewood area is where Harrison (then called Lynwood Avenue), Marcia and Florence Avenues converge. W. A. Clark established a city park a block north of Knox’s Inverness greenhouses. The city built a fire department across the street. Where Butte residents purchased flowers only for weddings and funerals, Knox created a market for home-grown flowers to be placed in gardens. She owned a floral business on Granite Street and the greenhouses in Englewood until she departed Butte for California in 1910. She continued to visit her daughter over the years, who also made her home on Florence Avenue.
Knox leased the Inverness greenhouses to florists Law Brothers and Day, who employed an apprentice by the name of Charles Hoida. When she left Butte, Knox sold the business to Hoida, who employed his father and brother as florists. The three lived in the house on site at 1876 Harrison Avenue. Charles had also worked as the florist for the Columbia Gardens. The Hoidas continued to operate the greenhouses, and a successful floral business until about 1940.
In the meantime, a healthy and vibrant neighborhood grew up around the Englewood streetcar line. Advertisements for real estate in 1915 encouraged buyers to invest in the Hamilton Addition, “where good gardens grow.” The Hamilton addition encompasses the blocks east and west of Whittier School – Princeton, Yale Harvard, etc. Sports teams from the Englewood neighborhood played football and basketball in independent city leagues against teams from Anaconda, Centerville, Meaderville, Dublin Gulch and the Hub. The teams even lobbied for the construction of a permanent gymnasium where they could practice and host their own games.
As Butte’s municipal transportation needs grew, the name of the Englewood line was kept. Once streetcars were retired, Butte’s modern bus service resumed in 1978, and the “Racetrack/Englewood” destination has been used ever since, a century after its original designation.