Historic City Greenhouses
Near the turn of the century, the City of Holland began collecting exotic tropical plants and adding additional plantings, grown in tubs, to Centennial Park. By July 1911, the Parks Board began looking into the possibility of building a city greenhouse to house the exotic plants and to provide flowers for other parks and cemeteries. By September of that year the Board and City began preparing plans and sketches for various greenhouse designs.
In the Spring of 1912 the first greenhouses on the triangular lot in the Prospect Park plat were completed.
By July of 1928, plantings were overflowing the greenhouse space. To accommodate the growing number of plants, Unit Three was built, which featured double entry doors facing Central Avenue. With the completion of the third unit the Parks Board believed the new greenhouse would "last the city for the next 15 to 25 years". The Board was right. Construction of Unit Four began in 1950, and was completed on March 5, 1951. This structure stands separate from the other three units.
Over the years, the greenhouses grew all the cities summer annuals from seed, including the flowers for parks, main street, city-owned parking lots, and the cemetery; as well as providing replacement tulip plantings for the eight miles of Tulip Lane. During the winter months, the tropical plants which decorate Centennial Park would be brought in along with the goldfish from the lily-pond.
The greenhouses are a unique structure in the state of Michigan, and possibly even to the Midwest. The greenhouses highlight the self-sufficiency, thrift, and responsibility typical of Holland.
In 1999 the City Greenhouses were listed as a single site local historic district, as a Landmark Property. Section 2-100.2(4)
What’s Next for the City Greenhouses?
With the completion of the new greenhouse, and in shifting planting operations to this new facility, the City has not identified a use for these historic structures in their current location. Currently we, the City are examining the possibility of relocating some portion or all of the greenhouses to another location within the city’s boundaries.
To explore these possibilities the City has formed a Working Group, which is focusing their efforts on identifying both viable uses and seeking out an appropriate sites. Historic integrity and context are important considerations in this effort.
Together the group has identified three goals for this project:
- Identify the most appropriate place for the relocation of a portion or all of the historic City Greenhouse(s)
- Identify practical and sustainable uses for the relocated Greenhouse(s)
- Retain and enhance to the greatest extent possible the historic integrity and story of the relocated Historic Greenhouse(s)
Current sites being explored by the group:
- Centennial Park, learn more
- Civic Center, learn more
- Windmill Island, learn more
- Window on the Waterfront, learn more
- Van Raalte Farm, learn more
How to Get Involved
Do you have ideas, sketches, input, feedback to share? If so, or if you are simply interested in learning more about the process - let us know. We are in the early stages of exploration, and your input will greatly aid in this process. Share your comments by filling out this simple feedback form.
- February 13 & 14, 2020 Public Open House and Workshop
- March 2020 Review options and/or preferred direction with Historic District Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, and City Staff
- April - May 2020 Share options and/or recommended location and use with City Council
- May 2020 City Council Public Hearing to receive comments
- May - August 2020 Refinement, additional focused study of preferred option
- September 2020 City Council decision on direction
(*Due to COVID-19, this process timeline has shifted.)
The Latest News
As this process unfolds, we encourage you to check this page periodically for updates.