Constructed between 1906 and 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory was designed by Jensen in collaboration with Prairie School architects Schmidt, Garden and Martin and the New York engineering firm of Hitchings and Company. Their intent was to create the “largest publicly owned conservatory under one roof in the world” in Garfield Park. Jensen conceived the Conservatory as a series of naturalistic landscapes under glass, a revolutionary idea at the time. The simple yet strong shape of the structure, which is meant to emulate the haystacks of the Midwest, complements the collection of plants and foliage that it houses.
Referred to as “landscape art under glass”, the Garfield Park Conservatory campus occupies two acres of public greenhouse space and 10 acres of outdoor gardens. The campus also houses cold frames and propagating houses where thousands of plants are grown each year. Located in the midst of historic Garfield Park on Chicago’s redeveloping West Side, the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets and one of the nation’s botanical treasures. It ranks among Chicago’s most unique sites, attracting visitors from a variety of cultures, disciplines and interests.
Both Garfield Park and its conservatory are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, the Conservatory has been recognized as an internationally significant horticultural facility as well as a cultural asset to the surrounding community and the City of Chicago.
The Garfield Park Conservatory is owned and managed by the Chicago Park District. The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, a non-profit partner of the Chicago Park District, inspires, educates and provokes exploration through innovative programs and experiences in one of the nation's largest and finest historic conservatories.