By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A 19th century greenhouse that fell into disrepair will be getting a makeover, thanks to a $500,000 grant from New York State.
The Green-Wood Historic Fund was awarded the grant by the Regional Economic Development Council and plans to put the money toward restoring and renovating the Weir Greenhouse, located on Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, near the main entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery.
Richard J. Moylan, president of Green-Wood Cemetery, said the plan is to convert the greenhouse into a visitors center for the cemetery.
"The Weir Greenhouse is an important New York City landmark that sadly fell into disrepair over the decades. As a growing center of education, history, and culture, Green-Wood is deeply committed to historic preservation. Once this restoration project is completed and the building is returned to its original beauty, the renovated structure will become an anchor in our community serving as Green-Wood’s visitor center and exhibition space for our historic archival and art collections,” Moylan said.
“We are deeply grateful to the Regional Economic Development Council for this grant," he added.
The cemetery purchased the greenhouse earlier this year.
The grant was one of 20 the Regional Economic Development Corporation awarded to projects in Brooklyn. The grants were announced by state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), who is a member of the corporation. The various projects will create jobs and help Brooklyn’s economy, Golden predicted.
“This is tremendous news because these projects will strengthen our local and city economy and help create and retain jobs,” Golden said.
“It is important that our attention be focused creating jobs throughout Brooklyn, working with leaders in business, education, local governments, economic development and planning. We have and will continue to develop a list of job creation projects that achieve our goals to help get New Yorkers back to work, and make it so college graduates can find a job, and at the same time, build a strong foundation for the future,” Golden said.
The organizations and businesses receiving state funds include: the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which was awarded $200,000 for the Downtown Brooklyn Eastern Gateway Revitalization Project; Duggal Visual Solutions, which is getting $881,000 for a Brooklyn Navy Yard Expansion Project; and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, which will receive $5 million for a media project.
The $500,000 grant to Green-Wood Cemetery will help turn the Weir Green-House, which had become a community eyesore, into a gem, cemetery officials said.
“The Weir Greenhouse has graced the approach to Green-Wood Cemetery since 1880 and we are fully committed to restoring the landmark as part of our vision for the future,” said Moylan at the time the purchase was announced in February.
Green-Wood Cemetery also purchased the adjacent parcel of land at 751 Fifth Avenue from a florist. The parcel contains a two-story empty building. The plans call for that building to be razed and rebuilt as part of a redevelopment plan.
“As Green-Wood runs out of new burial space in the next five years, it is incumbent on us to develop a strategic plan that will give us the necessary resources to preserve our art, sculpture, architecture, physical beauty and role as an important cultural center. Restoring the Weir Greenhouse is a key component of this plan. This is a transformative moment in our history and for the neighborhood as well,” Moylan said.
The original Weir Greenhouse – a small rectangular structure - was built in 1880 by the Weir family, Scottish immigrants involved in the horticulture business. In 1895 it underwent extensive renovation by architect George Curtin Gillespie. That structure remains on site today. It was purchased by McGovern in 1971 and run as a florist.
In April 1982, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declared the Weir Greenhouse a landmark.
Green-Wood Cemetery, established in 1838, was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2006.