Plans To Renovate
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
GREENWOOD HEIGHTS — Historic Green-Wood Cemetery, which was founded in 1838, attracts visitors from all over the world.
It houses such well-known people as composer Leonard Bernstein, 19th-century politician and newspaper publisher Horace Greeley, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Charles Ebbets of Ebbets Field fame, as well as notorious scoundrels such as Bill “the Butcher” Poole, the Manhattan gang leader who served as the inspiration for Daniel Day-Lewis’s character in Gangs of New York. Popular trolley tours and walking tours are given on a regular basis.
Up to now, however, it has not had a formal visitors center, although visitors can wait in the administration building. But this will almost certainly change soon.
Richard J. Moylan, president of Green-Wood Cemetery, has announced that the cemetery has received the necessary regulatory and legal approvals to purchase the landmark 19th-century Weir Greenhouse, currently occupied by Weir-McGovern Florist, at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue, across from the cemetery.
A spokesperson for Green-Wood Cemetery told the Eagle that no official closing date has been set, but the purchase price is “in excess of a million dollars.”
The Landmarks Commission declared the greenhouse, built in 1880 by the Weir family, a landmark in 1982. Its official statement read, “The Weir Greenhouse is among the rarest of nineteenth century survivors; it is the only Victorian commercial greenhouse to be extant in New York City. Greenhouses are among the most fragile of building types and without constant maintenance they will quickly decay.”
Indeed, the structure now shows signs of deterioration from the outside, such as peeling paint and decaying wood, but will be restored to its original splendor, according to Moylan.
Kay McGovern bought the greenhouse in 1971 from a large grower, who had in turn obtained it from the Weirs, and operated it as a florist shop. She told the Eagle her family had earlier had a florist’s shop on 20th Street, also near the cemetery. Most of the store’s trade came from people who wished to place flowers on graves at the cemetery, she said, but the store also provided flowers for weddings, school graduations, christenings and the like.
McGovern, who is still active in community affairs in Park Slope, retired in 1987. However, she passed control of the store, which she said was “still partially open,” to other members of her family.
At the store Wednesday, a “Closing — Everything Must Go” sign hung on the front door. Employees were selling off whatever they could from the store, including flower pots, ornaments for trees, watering cans and more.