Architecture firm Page Ayres Cowley has released renderings of a proposed renovation for the Weir-McGovern Greenhouse, a shuttered Victorian-era greenhouse that sits across the street from Green-Wood Cemetery's entrance, and peddled flowers to funeral-goers for more than a century. Post-renovation, the greenhouse will be the Cemetery's new visitor center.
Located at 749-750 5th Avenue at the corner of 25th Street, the greenhouse earned landmark status in 1982, and is the last known commercial Victorian greenhouse in New York City.
Green-Wood's Historian Blog announced the cemetery's successful purchase of the greenhouse back in February 2012. The previous owner, Kevin McGovern, purchased the building from the Weirs back in 1971, and operated a florist shop out of the historic landmark until 2012. In the fall of 2011, the Brooklyn Paper reported that the building was valued at $3 million.
According to the News, McGovern was struggling to stay afloat by 2012, and kept sporadic hours. In 2012, Green-Wood Cemetery president Richard Moylan said of McGovern, "He’s just been hammered. He tried to stick it out but times have just caught up with him...It looks like it did in 1895 now, with 116 years of neglect."
This April, Green-Wood purchased adjacent 242 25th Street for $1.5 million, in a deal that made the forthcoming renovations a real possibility, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (That, and a $500,000 restoration grant from the State, awarded to Green-Wood in December 2012.)
According to a Landmarks Preservation Committee report on the building from 1982, Weir Greenhouse was built by one James Weir, a Scottish immigrant who maintained 25 greenhouses in Bay Ridge by 1886. The Weir Greenhouse was built in 1880, by local architect Mercian Thomas. In 1895, the original greenhouse, which had a pyramid-shaped roof, was demolished and replaced with the current structure, designed by architect George Curtis Gillespie.
Gillisepie is responsible for the greenhouse's 50-foot-wide, eight-sided dome which, Scouting NY points out, is full of windows in "several different shapes and sizes." Two signs on top of the dome represent the building's previous owners: "McGovern," atop "Weir."
Brownstoner reports that Page Ayres Cowley will present its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. In addition to preserving and expanding the greenhouse, the firm is seeking approval to demolish two 19th-century row houses on the property, and replace them with a new brick office building for cemetery employees.
Green-Wood Cemetery declined to comment on the plans until Page Ayres Cowley gets approval from the Commission.