Saturday, April 14, 2012

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory - Belle Isle

Belle Isle Scout Adventure Day Part 2

We're all done with the aquarium and decide to visit the Conservatory which is conveniently right next door. This is the oldest conservatory in the nation, built in 1904. The following is a description I borrowed from Their words are much better than mine could be to describe the beauty within this building.

Conservatory History 

The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, a landmark on Belle Isle, has been in operation on the island since its inception in 1904. Designed by Albert Kahn and modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Conservatory occupies a 13-acre parcel of land fronted by formal perennial gardens and lily pond garden tucked into its north side. A major renovation took place during the early 1950s when its wood frame was replaced with a skeleton of iron and aluminum. Mrs. Anna Scripps Whitcomb bequeathed her 600-plant orchid collection to the City of Detroit and the Conservatory and, in grateful appreciation for the Scripps family generosity, the Conservatory was named for her in 1955.

The Conservatory is divided into five distinct sections. The building covers more than one acre and features a dome 85 feet high, two wings to the North and South, and a show house on the East side. The dome provides 100,600 cubic feet of space for large palms and other tropical trees. The South wing or Tropical House contains tropical plants of economic importance such as bananas, oranges, coffee, sugar cane and orchids. The North wing or Cactus House and Fernery hosts extensive collections of ferns, cacti and succulents. The Show House, remodeled in 1980, features six different displays of blooming plants during the year and is a draw for amateur photographers. The Conservatory provides an overall look at the world of horticulture.

The Conservatory also has one of the largest municipally owned orchid collections in the country, made possible by donations from various benefactors including the Whitcomb orchid donation. The orchids are displayed in the Tropical House at the Children’s Christian Temperance Fountain but can also be found throughout the facility.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite pictures from this current trip and some from when I took the kids back in February during winter break.

The following pics are from February 17, 2012. The kids had a half day of school before winter break, so I picked them up, along with Allie's friend, Courtney, and we spent the day wandering around the whole island. I figured I'd put the conservatory pics all together here and will make a separate story for the other pics.

This palm tree is in the main room when you first enter. It's the tallest in the whole place.
This photo does not do it justice. This thing was huge!

Nancy Brown Peace Carillon Tower

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