Designed as an idealized tropical landscape, it's where graceful palms, interspersed with a variety of other tropicals, soar up to a vaulted ceiling. This room features a massive Scheelea Palm which is probably the largest of its kind in any conservatory in the country. In 2003 the Palm House underwent a restoration of its structure and plant collection.
Designed by Jens Jensen and first built in 1907 with glass panels, the Palm House was rebuilt in 1958 with fiberglass replacements. In 2003, the room was renovated once again, but this time, with glass to more closely resemble Jensen’s original design.
The Palm House is shaped, not like a typical A-frame structure, but like a dome. Jens Jensen wanted to pay respect to the Midwestern location of this conservatory by designing the Palm House ceiling to resemble a giant haystack.
In 1926, botanists from the Field Museum of Natural History gave Garfield Park Conservatory a gift that kept on giving: the seed that grew the Scheelea Palm. Scientists acquired the seed on an expedition to Brazil, brought it back to Chicago and it has been growing at the Palm House ever since. The Scheelea Palm now has the distinct honor of being the largest (but not the tallest) plant in the Palm House collection. This type of cultural exchange is a powerful example of the connections shared between Chicago’s historic institutions over the years.
Photo captured March 22, 2014.
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