Mar 8, 2023

The Trexler Greenhouse

The former greenhouse at the current Trexler Park was the pride of Harry and Mary Trexler. The General was very specific in his will about its future;
I, Harry C. Trexler declare this to be my last Will and Testament: ......into the Treasury of the City of Allentown, for the perpetual maintenance of said Park, (Trexler) as well as the Greenhouse thereon located. This bequest shall include all the plants and other contents of said Greenhouse (1929)
Although nobody in charge of Allentown remembers, the greenhouse was a thing of wonder... Full of banana trees and other tropical plants, it was a true escape from winter for all visitors. The park director at the time touted all the money in maintenance to be saved if it was demolished. A couple years later the same director replanted the creek banks by the intersection of Cedar Crest Blvd. and Cetronia Rd.. That planting cost $750,000. I recall the price, because Longwood Gardens built a new greenhouse for that same amount, we had just lost our greenhouse, and only had a new creek weedwall to show in its place.  

Several years ago Allentown Park Department cut down all those plantings, and we now have nothing to show for our loss of the greenhouse. Even back then, I was an advocate for the traditional park system. Current visitors to Trexler Park don't notice that the weed wall has been cut down, and certainly don't know that they lost a beautiful greenhouse in the backstory.

reprinted from 2014. Postcard of Trexler duckpond from the glory days of the Allentown Park System

ADDENDUM MARCH 8, 2023: I haven't taken the Trexler Trust to task for over a decade...I feared less money for the WPA as retribution.  However, I'm at the age now where my outreach is limited to this blog, and nobody else will speak out.

For an era, the Trust was too tied to the city administrations. Perhaps that pattern started with it agreeing to the city demolishing the greenhouse, as explained above. The Trust was very tight with the Pawlowski administration, with some members being part of Pawlowski's kitchen cabinet. 

Of late they have been too methodical... For instance, they want their expert consultant to study what exact mortar mix to use when repointing the WPA stonework, before dispensing any funding. These walls are not the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty...but repairs must be done in a timely fashion. 

The city shouldn't be seeking special grants and gifts to repair the WPA structures... The upkeep required should be part and parcel of the regular budget. Their importance has come second, third and fourth place to numerous recreational fads and events. 

I'd like to tell you that I'm optimistic about the future of the WPA structures, but I'm not.  I will however use this blog to point out the ongoing neglect.

1 comment:

  1. Let's not forget that all the flowers that adorned our downtown lightposts came from that greenhouse. Those lightposts are one of Allentown's mascots, along with our (once pristine and meticulously cared for, but no longer) "park system". How many towns can claim a "system" of parks???