Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garfield Conservatory Devastated - Needs your help!

As many of you know I am a passionate supporter of the Garfield Park Conservatory, a historic landmark and pillar to landscape architecture in Chicago.   What you may not know is that this past week, the conservatory sustained significant damage to the oldest parts of the structure and is closed until further notice.  


Photo from Garfield Park Conservatory Website

I’ve talked with many of the staff and personally share their shock and sense of helplessness.  There is damage to over 60% of the glass roof.  The oldest parts of the conservatory, which had never been upgraded to tempered glass, were hardest hit including the Fern Room, the Show House, and the desert house.  All the propagation greenhouses were impacted as you can clearly see on the video on Fox news with aerial footage. 

While it’s helpful that the temperatures are not too cold so the collections won’t freeze, there are significant challenges. In several rooms the sun may burn and damage plants.   All the water from the rain which will now get into the conservatory  is also likely to overflow the ponds and create additional pest and plant cultivation problems.  Also with restrictions on staff and volunteer access until clean-up, programming and plant management is restricted. Luckily, the Chicago Park District has a disaster plan in place and teams are already mobilized to shore up the structure, clean out the glass, and protect the collections.  (Thank goodness they don’t need to wait for the city procurement process!)  However, it’s going to be a long and challenging road!

A letter from President Eunita Rushing to members called this a "major catastrophe." Other reports indicate that there is risk of loss of over 50% of the collection.


Extensive damage to Greenhouses - Garfield Conservatory July 2011

The Garfield Park Conservatory will be putting a capital campaign in place to cope with this emergency.  I imagine that page will show up on the site in the next day or so.  Until then, if you are so inclined please use the “donate now” button on their site to contribute.  Also anyone out there with a blog, facebook page or other social media connections - please help get the word out.

Today I'm singing the blues

Teresa Marie