Fern Room reopens at Garfield Park Conservatory

December 3, 2011

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(Photo courtesy of the Chicago Park District)
A summer hailstorm caused widespread damage to the Garfield Park Conservatory. The Fern Room reopens Saturday.

The historic Fern Room at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory reopened Saturday for the first time since a summer hail storm caused heavy damages.

Workers replaced the broken glass in the Fern Room with a polycarbonate roof to protect plants against the cold.

“The room is literally in transformation, not only to the work that we're doing, but the plants are also transforming into the new space,” said Matthew Barrett, the floriculture foreman.

Barrett said the room glows under the temporary roof. He said there are baby ferns and ancient cycad plants with new growth that's a deep burgundy purple.

“That room has Jens Jensen's fingerprints all over it, the waterfall, the little brook that cuts through the sidewalk,” Barrett said, referring to the famed landscape architect. “We've exposed these limestone walls that Jensen designed that you haven't seen in probably decades.”

Repair and renovation efforts are continuing at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The Chicago Park District has estimated the clean-up and winterization at about $3 million.

It hasn’t put a price tag yet on the overall repairs, which are slated to be done by the end of next year.