ERA Architects
Greenhouse at the Parkwood Estate National Historic Site.

Greenhouse Conservation – Parkwood Estate National Historic Site

Parkwood Estate National Historic Site was erected in 1915 as the home of Industrialist Colonel Sam McLaughlin, who had a keen interest in horticulture. When built, the Oshawa estate included five greenhouses, with additional greenhouses added over time.

After the property was transferred to a local hospital in 1972, all but six of the greenhouses where demolished. Alterations completed in 70’s or 80’s replaced the greenhouse glazing with Lexan sheets and removed the curved eaves in all but one greenhouse.

The Greenhouse Conservation project was the final phase in a long-term study of the greenhouse complex that informed the conservation strategy. The scope of the project included the preservation and selective replacement in kind of original building fabric, and the restoration of the original glass cladding and curved eave design.

Previous alterations to the greenhouses included the removal of original design details and alteration of the original fabric. The replacement materials, not well suited to the high humidity levels and sun exposure of the greenhouse environment, had deteriorated over time and were beginning to fail.

ERA and Heritage Restoration Inc. worked closely together to document and review the existing conditions in previously inaccessible areas prior to dismantling and salvage work.

Due to the condition of the greenhouses, it was determined that the best strategy was to dismantle, repair and reconstruct them. This would allow repair of obscured and/or inaccessible elements, and the provision of protective coatings on the metal components.

A variety of custom wood, glass and metal pieces had to be manufactured to match the original components. These character defining elements had to be ordered and produced after the greenhouses were dismantled to ensure a match with the original components. This process — although, slow and costly — had to be followed to ensure all elements fit, and no feature was missed.

The Greenhouse Conservation Project celebrates the use of these important structures while providing a national historic site with increased capacity for community programming.

Learn more about Parkwood Estate National Historic Site.