An enduring presence on Newtown Lane, a street that has seen more change than not, the flower shop and greenhouse now known as Wittendale’s is celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer. A sentinel of East Hampton Village, it has witnessed the passing of history and has created its own.
Don Horowitz, a graduate of Cornell University’s horticulture school and co-owner of Wittendale’s with Bob Dale, is a font of knowledge not only about plants of all sorts but about the site on which the business now stands. According to Mr. Horowitz, Louis Vetault, a local nurseryman, grew nursery stock trees and shrubs there, and at some point he and his family transitioned to selling flowers from a shed. The Vetaults then hired a local architect, James Thorpe, to design the shop that still stands on the site today.
Vetault Flowers opened in 1921. Three generations of Vetaults ran the flower shop until the 1970s, when it was leased to an employee who ran the business until its closure in 1982. When the lease ended, the Vetaults searched for someone to purchase the shop to no avail, until their attorney, Douglas Dayton, a former village mayor, bought it himself. Mr. Dayton, citing the fact that the shop had been an integral part of the community since his formative years, bought the store in an act of preservation, Mr. Horowitz said.