Friday 14 March 2014

End of an Era

    The Schmidt Greenhouse has been a landmark on Evansville’s Darmstadt Road for one hundred years.  It was owned by my grandfather when I was a kid, then was passed on to my uncle.  It was a commercially successful agricultural business which supplied Evansville grocery stores with fresh lettuce and tomatoes.
    As the economics changed (price of heating rose and the competition from growers in warmer climes increased), the greenhouse could no longer compete, and finally ceased operations.  It has stood unused and deteriorating for several decades now.  My uncle has tried to get it demolished several times, hoping someone would be able to reuse the glass and iron heating pipes, but they always fell through.
    He thought that he had found a solution when he was approached by a man, who said he would tear it down for the materials.  Unfortunately, the man turned out to be a con man, who was only after the iron pipe.  He started out by taking down a wall, but soon just started stripping the pipes away (many of which were supporting the building), and ignoring the glass, leaving the structure in a very weakened condition, and very dangerous.  Later, my uncle caught the man stealing aluminum irrigation pipe from the barn.  
   The greenhouse, which in the summer is filled with lush green vines and other wild plants, has been a popular backdrop for wedding photos and was often used as interesting subject matter by photographers.  Once when my uncle returned from vacation, he discovered that the whole front wall had been stripped of glass by someone taking advantage of his absence.  I don’t know if you can tell by the photo on top.
    Well, it seems the greenhouse is finally going to disappear, as arrangements have now been made to take it down with a backhoe.  I spent many an hour playing as a child, and working as a farmhand, in the greenhouse, and the property will look pretty empty the next time I see it.
    Below you can see some of the weeds, vines, and trees, growing wild inside the greenhouse.

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