Historic Restoration of Historic Ape House

The Swamp Building is a one million dollar restoration of one of the Brookfield Zoo’s oldest facilities. After decades of maintenance deferrals the zoo has undertaken several historic building restoration projects. The building initially opened in 1934 as the zoo’s “Ape House”. It was remodeled as “The Swamp” in the late 1980’s when Tropic World exhibits opened effectively, moving all of the zoo’s primates to the world’s largest indoor primate exhibit space.

By 2009, the exterior of The Swamp was in need of significant repair and restoration. A comprehensive restoration project was designed to address all of the building’s exterior deficiencies.

All of the existing brick masonry surfaces were stripped of existing paint and painstakingly restored using materials and techniques that were more commonplace in the early 1930’s. Damaged limestone details were either restored in place or removed and replaced with new material matching the existing in all ways. The brick and stone parapets were demolished (saving as much existing material as possible) and rebuilt as an exact replica of the 1934 version. All of the building’s roof areas and skylights will be rehabilitated in 2012 as part of phase II.

All work was completed on time working with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA).