The Mitchell Park Conservatory has been part of the Milwaukee scene since the first conservatory was built in 1898. The original conservatory exhibited flowers in a “greenhouse” setting and served the public until 1955. Because it was determined to be unsafe and impractical to repair, the conservatory was demolished.
A design competition, won by a local architect, produced the plans for the new conservatory. Donald Grieb’s winning entry called for three beehive-shaped (not geodesic) glass domes, 140 feet in diameter at the base and 85 feet high, offering 15,000 square feet of growing space for plant display. Each dome would have a distinct climate and exhibit plants in a naturalistic setting. These are the Desert, Tropical, and Floral Show domes. Construction began in 1959 and was completed in 1967.
In the face of the pressing maintenance and capital needs, the County Executive has proposed and County Board has approved a study of long-term options for the Domes. It is time for us as a community and County to have a conversation about the best way to invest in the next phase of the conservatory and the park. Because of the cultural significance of the Domes and the extensive, and likely expensive, investment that could be required, the community has a vital stake in this process. We are committed to an open and transparent process as we move forward.
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Source: Milwaukee County Government