Restoring a landmark to its former glory
This historic conservatory in Forest Park, completed in 1936, remains one of St. Louis’ most unusual buildings with its unique wedding of functional design and art deco style. Over its 50-year history of seasonal plant display, the building has earned its status as an important local landmark. In 2001, Forest Park Forever embarked upon a much-needed restoration and renovation of the Jewel Box. Because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, improvements could not alter the basic character or footprint of the building.
The renovations include a new HVAC system (formerly the building was not air-conditioned), replacing the flat roofs, repairing the window glazing and framing, and cleaning the exterior of the building. The interior of the building was completely renovated, and the floor plan reconfigured to allow utmost flexibility in accommodating floral displays, weddings, receptions, and special events. Central to the design is the reflecting pond, accented by a series of arched jet fountains that mirror the building’s arched beams. The pond is drained when dining and seating areas are required, revealing the limestone-paved surface. A catering kitchen, bride’s room, furniture storage areas and restrooms have been tucked into the rear of the space, behind a brick wall that reinterprets the historic front façade of the building.
Now, this stylish structure lives up to its name – a greenhouse that meets functional needs and exceeds them. It stands as a precision-cut gem, fitted out so as to serve as a party place as well as a hothouse.Robert W. Duffy
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Architecture Critic