Cherry Valley greenhouse restored to its 1912 look

Katie Backman

Orange, yellow and purple mums decorate the inside of The Cherry Valley Garden Center and Tomato World, which closed for two months in June so that the owners could renovate the greenhouse to look as it did in 1912.

The garden center is open again. It will close Dec. 23 for a winter break before reopening in the spring.

After two months of construction, co-owner John Falzone said the renovation job is 95 percent done. Falzone’s son, Benny Falzone, installed thousands of glass panes to one of the two greenhouses, which was in dire shape. Benny Falzone also installed wooden supports and cement footings because the 96-year-old piping was beginning to rot and wasn’t able to support the glass greenhouse structure.

“I think it’s safe to say two years after we have owned it we will have a grand opening in the spring,” Falzone said. “But it has been a massive project because the greenhouses were left in poor condition.”

Sue Claeyssen, who lives near the garden center, said she’s impressed with the renovation.

The property was vacant for about a year. As a result, the greenhouses fell into disrepair and many of the glass panes were broken, she said. Today, the garden center has been transformed, said Claeyssen, the wife of Village President Jim Claeyssen.

The flowers and plants that the Falzones grow and sell appeal to customers, she said, and the business appears to be thriving.

“They are such a hardworking family,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful business now.”

Kerry Falzone, Benny’s wife, said the garden center reopened just in time for fall and winter garden sales, but warm September weather didn’t lead many residents to think it was time to buy mums and pumpkins. Now that the temperatures have dipped, Kerry said, she thinks business will pick up.

Although modern greenhouses typically sport plastic panels, Kerry said the glass panels that her husband replaced gives the greenhouse character. The greenhouse wouldn’t feel the same if it were plastic because the glass has a bright feeling, she said.

Only a few things are left to do, she said. The family has to install benches that hold the flowers and plants and they will install another gas heater in the second greenhouse.

“There was a small group of ladies that came in here to check on the progress because they used to work here when they were younger,” she said. “Every so often we have people coming in to see the progress because a lot of people are excited that we are maintaining the 1912 look.”

Katie Backman can be reached at (815) 987-1389 or