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Garfield Park Conservatory To Replace 23,000 Broken Glass Panes

Hail caused signifcant damage to the historic Garfield Park Conservatory. Here, glass panes are shattered in the greenhouse. (Credit: Garfield Park Conservatory)

Hail caused signifcant damage to the historic Garfield Park Conservatory. Here, glass panes are shattered in the greenhouse. (Credit: Garfield Park Conservatory)

John Cody John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – As officials at the Garfield Park Conservatory have begun working to repair widespread damage from last week’s hail, carpenters have building rolling wooden shields so workers can safely water ferns under shattered glass roofs.

Director Mary Eysenbach said that last Thursday’s hail storm broke 23,000 glass panes at the conservatory, about half the glass over the Fern Room, Desert House and Show House plant rooms in the 100-year old conservatory at 300 N. Central Park Av.

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Those three rooms remained closed for repairs on Tuesday, although a number of other rooms at the conservatory were reopened on Sunday.

The Palm Room and Horticulture Hall remain open because they had been updated relatively recently with laminated glass that was not broken by the hail storm.

Eysenbach said the job of replacing 23,000 damaged glass panes is actually bigger than it sounds, because the panes are like shingles and require two pieces of glass to replace one pane.

She also said that, since laminated panes are heavier than the ones they’ll replace, engineers will have to ensure there’s proper bracing to support the replacement glass.

Eysenbach said she does not know the cost of rehabilitation, much of which she hopes can be raised by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

Meanwhile, parts of the conservatory under newer intact glass remain open for visitors.

The hailstones apparently left the conservatory’s Dale Chihuly sculptures unscathed.

The group of yellow glass artworks that resemble lily pads and are known as “The Persian Pond” and are installed in the fish-filled pond of the Aroid Room.

Eysenbach said the sculpture by the famed glass artist “look fine” but adds that staffers have not entered the pond yet to inspect them closely. The Aroid House suffered only 10 broken or cracked panes.

The room remains closed because it sits between two houses that suffered severe hail damage, the Desert House and the Show House.