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Weir Greenhouse Returns to Brooklyn in 1880s

The exuberantly domed 1880 Weir Greenhouse, Brooklyn’s last commercial Victorian conservatory, is still standing.

The tiny greenhouse at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue on the west side looks like a vintage spaceship with copper and glass, which has just arrived from Victorian Gotham. This is the perfect place to go if you enjoy time-travel. The structure sits across the street from the Green-Wood Cemetery double-arched gate. It is a Gothic Revival masterpiece of 1865, made up of intricately carved Brownstone.

The conservatory was no exception.

Vandals and the weather of over a hundred years had left the fragile greenhouse in ruins by 2011. The marauding robbers kicked in many of its severely rotting, ground-floor windows. The brick wall that surrounded it was crumbling. Repair estimates for the $1 million-plus window replacements and leaks were numerous.

The hothouse, a landmark of the city, was in danger of being buried. Green-Wood Cemetery bought it in 2012 for $1.63million from McGovern Florists. A flower-selling Brooklyn family that owned the property for 41years.

Workers are expected to finish the eight-and-a half year long reconstruction of the greenhouse by July. The greenhouse will be the shining jewel in the heart of an education and welcome center planned for the cemetery. Green-Wood estimated the cost for the greenhouse project at “in the low eight figures.”

Ground will be broken on May 23, for the L-shaped boxy modern building, made from glass and burgundy-glazed terracotta. This building will wrap and connect with the greenhouse. Designed by Architecture Research Office, the low-slung, $35 million structure is intended to be a neighborhood hub for Sunset Park, comprising exhibition galleries, a classroom for programs and community use, and a climate-controlled research center for the graveyard’s archives, which date to 1838.

“It’s inherent to the cemetery business that at some point you will run out of room to bury people, and you really have to think about what will this green space become and how can you make it an asset to the community,” said Lisa Alpert, Green-Wood’s vice president of development and programming.

More than 5,000 students from the entire city participated in this event.

More reading: www.nytimes.com