On a visit to Green-Wood Cemetery in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, you might notice this magnificent little abandoned greenhouse across the street from the entrance on 5th Avenue and 25th Street. In 2011, when reporting on its potential sale, The New York Times called it the “small, private counterpart to the great conservatories in Brooklyn and the Bronx.”
The greenhouse, made of glass, copper, iron and wood, was built in 1895 by architect G. Curtis Gillespie. By all accounts, it was a destination in itself, with its high domed roofs, bays and delicate Victorian details. The New York City Landmarks Preservation report states that “The Weir Greenhouse is among the rarest of nineteenth century survivors; it is the only Victorian commercial greenhouse known to be extant in New York City….The Weir Greenhouse has been in continuous use for almost a century, serving visitors to Green-Wood Cemetery.”. Despite its decayed state today, it’s easy to imagine the greenhouse overflowing with flowers in its heyday.
Though the future of the greenhouse was up in the air at the time of the negotiation. The cemetery noted at the time that not only was it landmarked, it was also the “only surviving [commercial] Victorian greenhouse in all of New York City.” The plan is to use the greenhouse as a visitors center and exhibition gallery.
In January 2013, Green-Wood was awarded a $500,000 grant by New York State’s Regional Economic Development Council to restore the greenhouse. Upon the announcement, the president of the cemetery released in a statement:
As a growing center of education, history, and culture, Green-Wood is deeply committed to historic preservation. Once this restoration project is completed and the building is returned to its original beauty, the renovated structure will become an anchor in our community…
The first steps of the restoration were an architectural study which was to have been completed in early 2013. After that, the cemetery writes, the restoration will begin. For now, the greenhouse remains in its gated-off state. The “McGovern” sign that was once above the Weir sign (as seen in these ScoutingNY photos) is now on the ground next to the crumbling foundations. McGovern bought the greenhouse in 1971.
Fun fact: James Weir, the original owner, is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery. The cemetery is currently fundraising for the renovation of the Weir Greenhouse on its website.
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.