Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

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The Anna Scripps Whitcomb School of Music is the oldest greenhouse in the United States. It is located in Belle Isle, where there are rare exotic plants from all over the world, including palm trees, tropical plants, cacti, ferns and one of the largest orchid collections in the country. These are displayed in five climate zones: Palm House, Cactus House, Hearth, Tropical House and Showroom. Its amazing collection makes it one of Detroit’s most popular tourist attractions.

Based on a design by the architect Albert Kahn, construction of the Conservatory began in 1902. The latter and George Mason designed the adjacent Belle Island Aquarium. The building was built in the style of European modernism, usually inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello residence. Originally made of glass and wood frames, in 1949, the wood frame was changed to an iron and aluminum frame. Under the 85 foot tall dome is the “palm house” which is planted with tropical trees and palm trees. This stunning building sits on one acre of land, off the greenhouse, and the remaining 12 acres include a garden with a water lily pond, perennial garden, fountain, and seasonal flower beds.