The conservatory opened at the intersection of Garfield Street and East Avenue in 1929. It was built adjacent to the park district administration building, which was formerly occupied by a ball-bearing factory, and was intended as a place to grow plants for the parks. When it opened, a newspaper described the new conservatory as a "place of fragrance and beauty." Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest
This century plant, a species that blooms only once in its life before dying (it can live up to 100 years, although this one only made it to 15), sprouted through the roof of the Oak Park Conservatory in 1987. The first signs of a growth spurt appeared that March, when the plant grew at the rate of two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half inches per day, adding 18 feet in one month. A pane of glass was removed from the conservatory roof to make way for the flower.
This photo of the Oak Park Conservatory was taken in the early 1970s, when the facility was in significant disrepair. In April of 1970, it was closed to the public, in part because of the threat posed by falling glass panes. A citizens committee rallied to save the conservatory from being torn down to provide space for Rehm pool parking.