Flower of the flock
Downtown floral shop has been crafting masterpieces since 1905.
Derrick Black, Mrs. DeHaven’s lead floral designer, and current owner J.P. Hewitt bring a modern twist to the historic business.
When Josephine DeHaven moved to Tulsa with her husband in 1905 to be part of the oil boom, she ended up founding a flower shop that would become a Tulsa business icon.
Mrs. DeHaven’s Flower Shop soon made a name for itself with Tulsa’s newly minted oil barons. Its proprietess not only sold the flowers, but also grew them — many locally at DeHaven’s Smilin’ Thru Farm near East 49th Street and South Harvard Avenue.
The shop had several locations, including a Miss Jackson’s store, before settling into its current location at 106 E. 15th St. in 1932.
During the 1920s, the wealthy in Tulsa loved to host elaborate parties, and Mrs. DeHaven’s supplied the flowers.
One of the more memorable events was the 1927 housewarming party for Philbrook, hosted by homeowners Waite and Genevieve Phillips. Mrs. DeHaven’s provided truckloads of fresh flowers — centerpieces and floral displays of yellow and talisman roses — which began arriving at dawn to complement a party that would last until the early hours of the next day, according to “Flowers by Mrs. DeHaven” by John Brooks Walton.
Tragically, DeHaven died in a 1944 automobile accident on her way to a floral convention. Longtime employee Trula Austin was astonished to learn DeHaven had left the shop to her. The shop thrived under Austin’s leadership for more than 30 years.
In 1952, Austin hired Homer “Art” Cowart, who eventually became the manager. One of his daughters, Trula Cowart Morey — named for her father’s boss — remembers him decorating the First National Bank downtown for Christmas. Each year, Cowart spent two days with a crew, including his daughters, getting the flowers just right.
“It was one of his proudest achievements,” says daughter Leslie Todd.
That attention to detail extended to other parts of the shop’s operation. Cowart’s daughters, including Terry Martin and Cathey Eastman, recall middle-of-the-night runs to the airport to pick up flowers for special occasions. They always had to rush back to get the blooms into the refrigerator, Morey says.
The Mrs. DeHaven’s staff decorated the store window for each holiday and hosted an Easter open house. The children visited the Easter bunny amidst a stunning display of flowers and eggs, while their parents enjoyed punch and petit fours.
Austin also hosted an annual Christmas gathering for former and current employees and their families, but the festivities had to wait until the week after New Year’s to allow time to finish up the Christmas flower displays.
“The shop would turn the Christmas tree into a New Year’s tree with white balloons,” Morey says.
After Austin’s death in 1978, Mrs. DeHaven’s continued to be part of many Tulsans’ celebrations.
In 2015, 24-year-old John “J.P.” Hewitt purchased the shop from Jerry Parkhurst, along with the adjoining Gadget Co., which sells outdoor-related equipment. Hewitt plans to carry on Mrs. DeHaven’s legacy, while giving it a modern twist.
“I’m bringing a newer and younger vibe to both shops,” Hewitt says.
The one thing that won’t change is Mrs. DeHaven’s tradition of making the customer its No. 1 priority, he says.
“We can be that friendly face that they can count on for both the happy times and sad times,” Hewitt says.