Hail Shatters Garfield Park Conservatory

The Conservatory will remain closed until further notice for safety issues

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hail shattered several rooms at Garfield Park Conservatory during Thursday's storm, causing "unprecedented" damage and closing the facility until further notice. (Published Friday, Jul 1, 2011)

    Hail shattered several rooms at Garfield Park Conservatory during Thursday's storm, causing "unprecedented" damage and closing the facility until further notice.

    "We come to connect people with nature," said park district director of conservatories, Mary Eysenbach. "Having nature create so much damage, the irony isn't lost on me."

    All nine of the 104-year-old building's plant production rooms sustained damage. More than half the total damage was done to the historic Fern Room, where glass rained down on plants, even splitting some of them. Workers can't safely access certain areas because of hanging and broken glass.

    Eysenbach says it could take a few days before workers can assess all the damage and start making repairs.

    Some workers, concerned about this weekends projected warm weather, have braved falling debris to put up shade protectors for certain plants requiring shady conditions for proper growth.

    Until it's safe, the conservatory will remain closed.

    "The employees are stunned," Eysenbach said. "They love these plants like they are pets. But they're going to work hard to get this place better than it was before."

    The building is insured, but donations may be needed to complete repairs. Roughly $5,000 in donations had already come in by Friday evening, officials said.

    It is not known when the Conservatory will reopen.