A rendering of the proposed education and welcome center at Green-Wood Cemetery. (Image: Architecture Research Office)
Green-Wood Cemetery could soon host a large new building on its campus.
The Green-Wood Historic Fund, which oversees the 478-acre cemetery in western Brooklyn, is looking to build a new Education and Welcome Center near the site’s main entrance at 25th Street and 5th Avenue.
Variations of the plan have been in the works for years, but a new rendering and description shared with Brooklyn Community Board 7 (CB7) offers a look at the latest iteration of the project.
The proposed L-shaped building would surround two sides of the historic Weir Greenhouse at 749 5th Avenue, offering views of the Cemetery and the Richard Upjohn Arches, according to the description. The structure, which would rise two stories at its tallest point, would house exhibition galleries, a classroom, and offices on the second floor, along with a multipurpose space within the greenhouse.
The facade is made up of an aluminum curtain wall “screened by glazed terra cotta baguettes and a glazed terra cotta rainscreen that covers the solid areas of the building as well as the adjacent party wall that abuts 5th Avenue,” the description said. The Manhattan-based Architecture Research Office is designing the building.
The project will need approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), because the 19th-century Weir Greenhouse is landmarked. LPC records show an application for “General Requirements Additions and New Construction Front, Side and Rear Yards Signage” at the site was filed on August 23rd.
In 2019, Green-Wood estimated the cost of the project at $34 million, and said the structure would be approximately 20,000 square feet in size, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Some of that funding was provided by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York State, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, among other sources.
A spokesperson for Green-Wood declined to confirm whether those cost and size projections were still accurate, but said the organization would provide more details when it presents to CB7’s Land Use/Landmarks Committee at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, September 14.
“We look forward to presenting the plans for Green-Wood’s Education and Welcome Center to Brooklyn’s Community Board 7 next month,” the spokesperson, Jeff Simmons, said. “The new structure, which will augment the restored Weir Greenhouse, will be an important resource for the neighborhood. The Center will offer visitor orientation and amenities, space for educational programs, and more. Our South Brooklyn community is important to Green-Wood, as it has been since 1838, and we’re excited to bring this project to CB7 for its review.”
Green-Wood purchased the Weir Greenhouse in 2012 for $1.63 million from McGovern Florists, which operated out of the building after buying it from the Weir family in 1971.
Then, in 2015, Green-wood purchased an adjacent building at 242 25th Street that was previously the headquarters of the Brooklyn Monument Company, along a nearby lawn once used to display sample tombstones, for $1.5 million.
Green-Wood first came to the LPC with a proposal to restore the greenhouse in December 2013, but the commission took "no action" on the application and it was later withdrawn.
In July 2015, another iteration of the proposal, created by the architecture firm Page Ayres Cowley, was presented to the LPC. The plan called for constructing a three-story building on land surrounding the greenhouse, but the Commission declined to approve it, with one commissioner calling it “a hodgepodge of too many things” that “should be toned down.”
Even as construction on a new building stalled, Green-Wood has slowly worked to restore the Weir Greenhouse itself, which had been in a state of disrepair for several years.