Vintage View: 1910s Garfield Park Conservatory

0 Posted by - May 1, 2014 - Vintage View

Garfield Park was designed as a pleasure ground by William LeBaron Jenney and is the oldest of the three great original Chicago West Side parks (Humboldt Park, Garfield, and Douglas Park).

It is home to the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest and most impressive conservatories in the United States. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Garfield Park Conservatory occupies approximately 4.5 acres and exhibits plant specimens from around the world.

In 1905, Chicago’s West Park Commission’s general superintendent and chief landscape architect Jens Jensen demolished the three smaller greenhouses in Humboldt, Douglas and Garfield Parks to create what was intended as “the largest publicly owned conservatory under one roof in the world” in Garfield Park.  Many of the original plantings came from the three smaller westside conservatories.

Constructed between 1906 and 1907, the Garfield Park Conservatory was designed by Jensen in collaboration with Prairie School architects Schmidt, Garden and Martin, and the New York engineering firm of Hitchings and Company.  It represents a unique collaboration of architects, engineers, landscape architects, sculptors and artisans.

Jensen conceived the Conservatory as a series of naturalistic landscapes under glass, a revolutionary idea at the time.  The simple yet strong shape of the structure, which is meant to emulate the haystacks of the Midwest, complements the collection of plants and foliage that it houses.

The conservatory underwent a multi-million dollar restoration in 1994 The non-profit Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance was formed to help maintain the structure and provide programs and services for visitors.

In a hailstorm on the night of June 30, 2011 the Conservatory suffered catastrophic damage to glass in showrooms as well as production houses where plants are grown or stored.  For the latest on the repairs:

~via Garfield Conservatory website, Wikipedia, John Chuckman Nostalgia blog

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