History

History

The Hudson Park Greenhouse has a long history that extends back to the late 19th century. It is one of the few remaining municipal greenhouses left in Westchester County. The land for Hudson Park was purchased by the City of New Rochelle in 1886. Located on the shoulder of Davenport Neck and overlooking Long Island Sound’s Echo Bay, it would become the community’s first public park. The greenhouses were built about 1915 (the exact dates for construction have not yet been discovered) so that the New Rochelle Parks Department could provide plants for the city’s many public buildings and street plantings.

Historic Architectural Plan (click on image for a pdf)

According to experts knowledgeable about the Lord & Burnham style glass houses, the structures were built at two different times, with the East Wing being the oldest. The Lawton family constructed the nearby Wildcliff mansion in 1852. In 1940, the structure was bequeathed to the City by its owner, Mrs. Clara Prince.

The greenhouses supported the City’s parks and beautification programs for decades. During the latter part of its history, the greenhouse became an adjunct for the now shuttered environmental education center formerly located in Wildcliff. The nonprofit organization Friends of Wildcliff Greenhouse coordinated many activities in the greenhouse, including a municipal beautification project, school visits and horticultural programs. Participants included seniors, students and children with developmental disabilties.

Over time, the greenhouse conditions deteriorated. In 2009, the City closed it due to the dangers of falling glass panes and failing support structures. The connecting “Link Building” suffered roof leaks and a basement fire. Now fenced off completely to prevent unauthorized entry to the site, all access to and maintenance of the exterior is now impossible. The perimeter is consequently severely overgrown and random trees are sprouting throughout the greenhouse.