The Park District was selected to receive a $1.84 million state grant to restore the conservatory and two greenhouses in Wilder Park. The 88 year old Wilder Park Conservatory was the Park District’s first capital project and was due for a facelift. The conservatory received new vestibule doors and frames, new interior walkways that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, updated heating, an automated venting system, and upgrading plumbing and electrical systems to provide energy efficient climate control.
Construction began in June 2013. The conservatory’s structural steel was cleaned, repaired and repainted to its original beauty. The historic koi pond, waterfall and original rock sculpture that had delighted visitors for decades were carefully restored, allowing flowing water to once again run into the pond. Concrete pathways were hand-tooled to recreate the original decorative floor pattern, antique bronze light fixtures were selected and windows and doors were custom-made to maintain historical character.
Hundreds of residents attended a public ceremony and dedication in April 2014. The conservatory holds a long history with Elmhurst, from its early days as a private greenhouse, its early employ as the District’s first capital project and its current use as an educational resource, a growing space and a beautiful location to spend the day. A piece of Elmhurst’s history has been brought back to life and should have a spot in Elmhurst’s history for decades to come.