The Palm House at George Eastman House is a glass-roofed, greenhouse room built in 1905 as a unique component of this National Historic Landmark. Also called the Solarium or Sun Room, it serves as an essential connecting space between the museum galleries and the historic mansion. It has a distinctive design, historic character, and is bright year-round— which we really enjoy during those gray and gloomy Rochester winter months.
Remarkably, the Palm House glass roof has stood the test of decades of our rigorous climate, but it is now deteriorated to the point where the room cannot be used for anything but a pass-through.
Aerial View showing the Palm House from the exterior.
Palm House used as a Member’s Lounge in the early 1950s shortly after Eastman House became a Museum.
A view of the Palm House exterior during George Eastman’s day.
As you may notice in the historic images above, there were four green houses and an orchid lean-to located next to the Palm House. The lean-to was connected to a potting room, which was connected to the Palm House where tropical plants were grown.
The restoration process is underway with several goals in mind: to restore the safety and comfort, to develop usability of the space, and last but not least— to make it more energy-efficient. As the gateway between the historic house and the modern museum, it serves as both a first glimpse to the legacy of the man who lived here and his impact today.
Editor’s note: The Palm House Restoration is one of the projects featured in our Photo Finish 5K Philanthropy Challenge fundraiser.
Kathy Connor is the Curator of the George Eastman Legacy Collection. She oversees the care & maintenance of George Eastman's 50 room Colonial Revival mansion & the George Eastman Archive which contains over 162,000 other artifacts that tell the history of the Eastman Kodak Company and its founder George Eastman. Connor joined the museum staff in 1982 as the museum's Education & Volunteer coordinator.