Behind Maplewood Town Hall are four treasured greenhouses. The upper house was built in 1940 by the Township of Maplewood. In 1948, the Maplewood Garden Club excavated alongside the upper house and enclosed a "lean-to" greenhouse, with 72 bench spaces for public use. The Township then expanded its winter-over space with the quonset, in 1969. Finally, in 1974, MGC donated the municipal greenhouse with 160 bench spaces for use by Township residents.
The “lean-to,” the first greenhouse constructed by MGC, was a natural development growing out of the enthusiasm fostered by the Adult School class in gardening taught in the Upper House by Richard Walter, Supervisor of Maplewood's Park & Shade Tree Department and MGC member. These energized student gardeners sought to continue their propagating experiences which, of course, required a greenhouse in the winter months. Competition for these few bench spaces was fierce, with residents lining up before dawn to achieve their desired bench location. In 1949, MGC was awarded the National Garden Institute's Silver Medal for "the finest job of Community Service of any garden club in the United States," largely due to the creation of the lean-to.
Ultimately, an MGC committee was formed in 1973 to discuss possible greenhouse expansion for use by Maplewood residents. By October, plans were agreed with MGC offering to fund a new Municipal Greenhouse as a gift to the Township. The Township Committee accepted the proposal and arranged for construction. The Municipal Greenhouse was completed in 1974 in time for its first winter season. The Municipal Greenhouse provides 160 bench spaces for a nominal annual fee and a limit of one space per family (Maplewood residency required).
Each year MGC sets aside funds for long-term improvements to the Municipal Greenhouse. In June 1993, a new state-of-the-art cover for the greenhouse was donated by MGC. Also, each week, a maintenance crew meets to replenish the storage bins holding leafmold, sand and topsoil, and to keep the potting-up areas clean.
Every September (the first Thursday after Labor Day) eager prospective bench holders line up to secure a space in the Municipal Greenhouse – a festive beginning to the indoor gardening season.