CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS
The Conservatory of Flowers, a large botanical greenhouse in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, was constructed in 1878 and opened a year later. One of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in San Francisco, a city famous for its Victorian homes, it is truly an architectural gem of remarkable brilliance. It houses an important collection of exotic plants. It is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park and the oldest municipal wooden conservatory remaining in the United States. It is also one of the first municipal conservatories constructed in the country.
The Conservatory of Flowers is an elaborate Victorian greenhouse with a central dome rising nearly 60 feet high and arch-shaped wings extending from it for an overall length of 240 feet. It sits atop a gentle slope overlooking Conservatory Valley. It consists of a wood structural skeleton with glass walls set on a raised masonry foundation. Unique features of the conservatory are the projecting gables on its central rounded roof, stained-glass windows along the first story cornice, square Gothic corner towers and Oriental roof line. At the beginning of each summer, the glass windows are white-washed to keep the UV levels down and protect the delicate plants against bright summer sun. Colored glass window vents around the building add variety to the tints of plants and flowers as the sunlight shifts during the day.
The Conservatory of Flowers can be summed up with one word: charming. Its Victorian construction gives the place a sense of whimsy, and the unique flowers can be seen in a tranquil setting. With almost two thousand plant species represented in its exhibits and floral displays, the Conservatory joins a distinctive circle of modern American horticultural museums that are on the cutting edge of botanical interpretation and conservation education.
In this spectacular museum of living plants, immersive displays in five galleries engage visitors physically, intellectually and emotionally. These splendid displays not only delight, but deliver a moving message about the rapid changes in tropical habitats worldwide and efforts currently underway to conserve these special places.
Restoration: Flowers for San Francisco
Traditional Building Magazine