Back in March of this year, it was reported that the Volunteer Park Conservatory may be required to close because of budget cuts. Built in 1912, the conservatory celebrated its centennial this summer as well. Luckily for the historic building, as well as its hundreds of plants and many fans and visitors, the City of Seattle announced recently that the Conservatory will remain open.
Amidst other Parks and Recreation budget cuts, there was a concern that the cost of keeping the Conservatory open and running, about $450,000 per year, was not sustainable. However, the city’s recently approved operating budget updated the inclusions for the Conservatory to a more sustainable financial model.
In addition to the annual cost of running the place, critical structural repairs are necessary to maintain the hundred-year-old building. As the City noted in its announcement, the new budget for the Volunteer Park icon includes $2.3 million of the $3.1 million needed for the repairs. Individual donors have given thousands of dollars toward the remaining $750,000 needed for the restoration of the Conservatory.
Friends of the Conservatory and other volunteer efforts have been critical toward the sustainability of the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Alongside the donations for the repairs on the building, there will be a $4 entrance fee charged per visitor to support maintenance and education programs.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory holds tropical plants that have been collected and maintained over the 100 years of the building’s existence, and offers classes, day camps, events, and more for the neighborhood, Seattle community, and out-of-town visitors.
“As of early November, more than 100,000 people had visited the Conservatory this year, about two-thirds of them from outside Seattle. The Conservatory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it is also a City landmark and one of the few remaining original Victorian public glass houses in the country,” the city noted in its announcement.
As a side note, the Volunteer Park Express holiday display has been featured in the Conservatory since December 7th for the holidays. Visit in time to see it before Jan. 1st when it will be removed. Read more about the train in the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.