The Famous Glensheen Greenhouse, What It Was And Why It Is Missed

When you hear about green at Glensheen many a visitor is taken back to the famous breakfast room. There they are surrounded by green Rookwood tiles, a beautiful built-in fountain and sun streaming through the stained glass, whose beauty demands to be ogled. Today I’m going to tell you about an amazing structure that once graced the grounds of Glensheen. That structure is known as the greenhouse.

How Big Was It?

Up until the 1970’s many people would hear “green and Glensheen” and think about the amazing 3,000 square ft. greenhouse. This structure sat adjacent to the gardener’s cottage and ran up the terrace space. The greenhouse consisted of four rooms. Those rooms were

  1. The Palm house
  2. The Rose house
  3. The Carnation house
  4. The General growing house

What Was The Greenhouse Used For?

The Palm house was the largest and most stylish of the rooms. This house was 25ft by 50ft and was used to store the most exotic plants such as orchids and banana trees. Most of the seeds the gardener purchased would begin to grow here. It is estimated that 6000 seedlings were grown every year.

The Rose house was 18ft by 25ft. It was filled with roses in all stages of bloom year-round. The family could go in and pick roses for their love interests or themselves. The Congdon’s would also make bouquets for various parties held throughout the year.

The Carnation house was 18ft by 25ft. This house grew carnations of all kinds for floral arrangements. During this time period carnations also were symbols of style and prestige. Chester was known to spend his time simply admiring the carnations. It is believed that he was a big fan of the flower.

The General growing house was 18ft by 40ft. This area was used for seedlings and bedding plants. The annual garden (known to many as the sundial garden) was cultivated within the walls of the greenhouse. Every annual started out as a seedling and when it grew big enough was transferred to the garden. This practice helped create the luscious imagery seen in the photos below.

Greenhouse To Table

The greenhouse primarily showcased beautiful carnations, annuals, and roses however it was also used to feed the Congdons. You previously saw the banana tree that produced fruit year round. The general growing house was also used to plant many vegetables and fruits transferred to the garden later. Glensheen’s gardens were often used in feeding the family. They grew carrots, lettuce, corn, rhubarb, radishes, strawberries, raspberries and other plants throughout the years.

Why Was It Dismantled?

For those not lucky enough to see the greenhouse we can only imagine it’s immense beauty. So why on earth would such an amazing part of Glensheen be taken down? The main reason was the cost of heating. It took around 65 tons of coal to heat the greenhouses, to put that in perspective, know that it took around the same 70 tons of coal to heat the entire mansion! The greenhouse boiler also needed to be hand stoked every couple hours, even in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until 1927 that an automatic stoker was purchased, making the houseman’s job considerably easier. The greenhouse was heated through two large pipes under the Gardener’s cottage. If you look at the cottage today you can still see the roof lines protruding out where the greenhouse once connected to it. In 1971 the greenhouse was taken down due to the extreme heating costs. There are still spare parts to the greenhouse in the various nooks and crannies of the carriage house. To learn more about Glensheen’s boilers head here (

Will It Ever Come Back?

It is a dream of many to one day restore the greenhouse on Glensheen’s grounds. For now we enjoy the grounds in other ways, through snowshoeing in the winter months, picnics in the spring, beach club in the summer months, and a stroll surrounded by beautiful changing leaves in fall. To help us continue to restore Glensheen and honor our mission of “celebrating preservation” you can always donate here Make sure you don’t miss out on all of the beauty still at Glensheen. To learn more about tours head to