Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review Bird Haven Victorian Conservatory - Joliet

Bird Haven Conservatory, Joliet, IL Jul 2015
South of Chicago, in Joliet Illinois, there is a nice example of a Victorian Conservatory which was once common as part of large mansions and residential estates of the well to do.  I visited the Bird Haven Conservatory and was surprised by what I found and didn't find. I very much enjoyed the visit and recommend this as a day trip from Chicago particularly in conjunction with Midewin Tallgrass Prairie previously reviewed on this blog.

In particular I couldn't help but compare and contrast to Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory which was built around the same time - but with a very different philosophy.  Also updates and additions to the facilities has shown some major differences.

  • At Bird Haven, typical to the period, plants are placed in pots within the conservatory. At the Garfield Park Conservatory plants were planted in the ground to provide a sense that one is actually in a tropical or other exotic environment. This approach was considered very radical at the time. 
  • Both facilities have been updated over time. At Bird Haven a very large brick structure was added adjacent and connected to the site. I thought this really detracted from the historic integrity. The Garfield Park Conservatory was also expanded - to accommodate groups and catering. In this case a similar glass structure and style was used. So it seems more cohesive. 
  • Updates on the inside of the conservatory were also a bit different - similar to the comment above. Some of the adds at Bird Haven, to me, detracted from the overall design. 

Please enjoy the additional photos.

This is a panorama view of the desert section of the conservatory.  Diversity was not extensive yet the room was beautiful and engaging. 

Bird Haven Conservatory - Desert 2015
While I'm used to seeing a white wash on greenhouses in the summertime to reduce and manage temperatures on the interior, I know that fabric can also be used. At Bird Haven the solar barriers were deployed to block out the sun. As shown below.

Bird Haven - Sun Blocking
I mentioned above that there were many plants in pots dispersed in the beds inside the conservatory. The photos below give a few examples. One be looks great as one walks by - then on closer inspection the plethora of plastic pots can be seen.

During a renovation someone decided that a water feature would be a great add in the main show house at Bird Haven. In the left most photo below you can just see the waterfall - which is a nice feature. The challenge I had is that it was constructed on these massive stone pillars with extra large wood beams which seemed too clumsy for the space and time period. Plus to the side of the structure all the supporting pumps and pipes are clearly visible. Boo.

Modern Addition - Bird Haven Conservatory, Joliet, IL

 Parting shot - there are several garden beds outside with more native plants. A nice walk around. In this photo below you can see the additional brick building on the side mentioned above.

Have a great day!

Teresa Marie

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