Sunday, November 16, 2014

McGovern Weir Greenhouse Across from Green-Wood Cemetery

McGovern Weir from intersection
McGovern Weir Greenhouse
McGovern Weir Greenhouse
Across from the main entrance of Green-Wood Cemetery at 5th Avenue and 25th Street is the only surviving Victorian style commercial greenhouse in New York. "The Greenhouse is a wood frame structure enclosing glass pains, and has glass and galvanized-iron roof surfaces."[1] Much of the structure's bold appearance can be attributed to its domes, as well as the projecting bays and corner entrance vestibule. The McGovern Weir Greenhouse was commissioned by James Weir Jr. and designed by architect C. Curtis Gillespie who lived near the site.[2]

McGovern Weir Greenhouse Dome & Weir Sign
James Weir Jr. inherited a love for the flower trade from his father James Weir Sr. who came to America from Scotland in 1844 and entered the flower business in Bay Ridge. In 1861 the Jr. Weir went into business for himself as a florist.[3] Later, in 1866 James Weir Jr. moved his business to 24th Street and 5th Avenue to serve those visiting Green-Wood Cemetery. Then, he moved to 25th Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. Finally, Weir's last move came after 1880 when he commissioned prominent local architect Mercien Thomas to design a greenhouse on the site where the surviving Weir Greenhouse now sits. Mercien Thomas's building was replaced by the current structure in 1895.[1] The Weir greenhouse was a Family business owned by James Weir Jr. and operated with the help of his son and grandson, all of whom lived nearby at 236 and 228 25th Street. The greenhouse remained in the Weir family until 1971 when it was sold to the McGovern family.[2] 

McGovern Weir Greenhouse Entrance & McGovern Sign
After the McGoverns took over the Weir business the Greenhouse faced a slow decline. A New York law banning the use of water filled containers in graveyards during mosquito season (April 1 - October 15) and subsequent declining demand for fresh flowers made it difficult for the McGovern family to be able to afford the maintenance on the landmarked structure. So, in the fall of 2010 the McGoverns had the property listed for sale. The McGovern family continued to operate the Greenhouse until 2012 when the property was sold to Greenwood Cemetery.[3] The current plans for the old Greenhouse include restoration and conversion into a visitors center for the cemetery. The cemetery is currently accepting donations to help cover the high cost of restoration.


Sources:
  1. Dolkart, Andrew S. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Weir Greenhouse New York, 13 April, 1982
  2. Richman, Jeff "It's Ours" Green-Wood.com 6 February, 2012
  3. Gray, Christopher "Sale May Rescue Ruined Greenhouse" New York Times 10 July, 2011