Fern Room at Garfield Park Conservatory Reopens

June 30th hail storm damaged all nine of the 104-year-old building's plant production rooms

By BJ Lutz
|  Saturday, Dec 3, 2011  |  Updated 4:19 PM CDT
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Hail Shatters Garfield Park Conservatory

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Hail Shatters Garfield Park Conservatory

Hail shattered several rooms at Garfield Park Conservatory during Thursday's storm, causing "unprecedented" damage and closing the facility until further notice.
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The Fern Room at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory reopened Saturday for the first time since a summer hail storm damaged all nine of the 104-year-old building's plant production rooms.

A temporary fix -- panes made of polycarbonate material -- has been installed to shield the plants from the winter 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 floriculture foreman Matthew Barrett, according to WBEZ radio.

The Chicago Park District said all of the repairs -- with a total price tag still unknown -- should be done by the end of next year.

The conservatory is a landmark building and its restoration must be historically correct. The plans are eventually to replace the plastic panes with laminated glass -- such as that found in windshields -- to minimize breakage.

Conservatory officials in August announced a fundraising campaign to help pay for the restoration. An October plant sale netted about $17,000, the Chicago Journal reported.

Donations are still being accepted.

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