Metro Parks Tacoma announcement.
Tacoma, WA: Tacoma’s glass palace is back! After a year of extensive renovations and stunning additions, the 110-year-old W.W. Seymour Conservatory in Wright Park – one of just three public Victorian conservatories on the West Coast – will reopen in splendor May 14, with free entry, food and good old-fashioned fun from 12-6 p.m.
With a $2,730,600 budget, the renovation includes a floor-to-ceiling living plant wall, vivarium with golden dart frogs, a carnivorous plant bog, sparkling new lighting and many new and unusual plant species. Crucial-but-invisible improvements include a new boiler, heating tubes and venting windowpanes to create a more comfortable environment for plants and visitors alike.
The project was funded by voter-approved dollars from the 2014 Metro Parks Tacoma bond, with the support of the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory Foundation and a Washington State Heritage Capital Projects Grant.
Entry into the jewel-box conservatory will be free, with volunteer docents. And there will be plenty of fun outside to stagger visitor entry for a more spacious experience. Activities include:
- Take home a free plant (first 100 visitors)
- Make floral prints on a Victorian printing press with Springtide Press
- Make Victorian herb bouquets with garden author Sue Goetz
- Create a flower crown with the Seymour Conservatory Foundation
- Get your plant questions answered by WSU Master Gardeners
- Do a plant scavenger hunt
- Browse the revamped Conservatory Gift Shop
- Cast your vote in the Golden Dart Frog Naming Contest
- Learn lacemaking and listen to dulcimer music from Fort Nisqually volunteers
- Do a nature activity with Tacoma Public Library
- Relax to light music from DJ Josiah French
- Take a tree tour around Wright Park’s 27-acre arboretum with Tacoma Tree Foundation
- Eat yummy food & drink from Howdy Bagel, Valhalla Coffee and Oly’s Malasadas
- Get a free ice cream from the Ice Cream Social cart
- Sip botanical drinks in the Tropical Room at the Conservatory Foundation’s Happier Hour 4:30-6 p.m. (proceeds support Conservatory programs)
After May 14, the Conservatory will be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wed-Sun. Entry is always free, but members get special perks like special events, discounts and more.
SEE MORE OF SEYMOUR
Here’s a summary of the renovations:
- Living wall of ferns, monstera, orchids and more, built on interior and side walls in south wing
- Vivarium habitat for golden dart frogs and their plants, surrounded by orchids and ferns
- Carnivorous plant bog in the south wing
- South wing: Remodel of gift shop and offices (new sink, display shelving, lighting, roller shades, heating)
- North wing: New planting beds for tropical plants, new fin tubes for heating distribution, rebuilt floor protecting the basement from water
- Basement: New boiler
- Everywhere: New paint for steel frame, rebuilt venting windowpanes on roof, new lighting and environmental controls, steel cross bracing at wall and roof bays, new gutters and flashing for weather proofing, foundations and chimney crack filling with new parge coating
- Outside: New accessible parking stall in drive, new beds of hardy tropical-style plants
- Rotunda: Restored and new fiberglass-framed windows
“We’re really excited to unveil this historic gem that’s so beloved by the community,” said Joe Brady, deputy director of regional parks and attractions for Metro Parks Tacoma. “It’s an honor to be able to steward such a beautiful piece of history that’s also a living environment for a wealth of unique plant species.”
Adds Park Board President Andrea Smith: “The Seymour Conservatory is a place that draws both our community and visitors from around the nation. It’s a warm sanctuary in winter and a lush delight in summer, allowing us to experience tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific Northwest. And thanks to Tacoma voters, we can enhance it and preserve it for generations to come.”
- 2,000 new plants added
- 1,200 plants in the living wall
- 820 new heating tubes
- 46 new venting window panes
- 30 insect-eating plants in the carnivorous plant bog
- 4 golden dart frogs (Phyllobates terribilis)
- 4 Japanese koi
- Built in 1908 for $10,000 (donated by William Seymour, businessman, mayor and park commissioner)
The Conservatory will be the second of three major park renovations opening before summer: Up first was the new area in Swan Creek Park, which combines wild forest canyon with trails and history. The grand reopening of Owen Beach, nestled on Puget Sound in the lush forest of Point Defiance Park, will follow.
LEARN MORE: Find details on the conservatory and renovation at seymourconservatory.org