It’s brighter. Hotter. More accessible. Filled with dart frogs and a living wall of plants. The WW Seymour Botanical Conservatory, the jewel of Tacoma’s Wright Park and one of three Victorian public conservatories on the West Coast, is set to open after a year-long renovation.
With a budget of $2,730,600, the renovation is funded by voter-approved dollars from the 2014 Metro Parks Tacoma Bond, with support from the WW Seymour Botanical Conservatory Foundation and a Heritage Capital Projects grant. of Washington State. It includes stunning additions like a living plant wall, dart frog vivarium, and sparkling new lighting. Crucial but unseen improvements include a new boiler, heating tubes and ventilation panes to create a more comfortable environment for plants and visitors.
The grand opening on May 14 is perfectly timed for spring – but here’s a preview of what will be revealed: a living wall of ferns, monstera, orchids and more, built on the interior and side walls of the wing south ; a vivarium habitat for golden frogs and their plants, surrounded by hanging ferns; a bog of carnivorous plants in the south wing where visitors will find the gift shop and remodeled offices (new sink, shelving, lighting, blinds, heating; an upgraded north wing with new planting beds for tropical plants, new finned tubes for the heating distribution, and rebuilt floor protecting the basement from water; and a new boiler in the basement. Improvements can be seen throughout: new paint for the steel frame of the veranda, new ventilation panes on the roof, new lights and fans, steel braces on the wall and roof bays, new gutters and flashings for waterproofing, and foundations and filling of the chimney cracks with a new plaster coating Outside, there are new accessible parking spaces in the driveway, new rustic tropical-style plant beds, and the rotunda has been restored and completed with new additions. new fiberglass framed windows
“We are truly thrilled to unveil this historic gem that is so beloved by the community,” said Joe Brady, Assistant Regional Parks and Attractions Manager for Metro Parks Tacoma. “It is an honor to be able to manage such a beautiful piece of history, it is also a living environment for a multitude of unique plant species.
Park Board Chair Andrea Smith added, “The Seymour Conservatory is a place that attracts both our community and visitors from across the country. It’s a warm sanctuary in the winter and a lush delight in the summer, allowing us to experience a tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific Northwest. And thanks to the constituents of Tacoma, we can make it better and preserve it for generations to come.
The Conservatory will be the second of three major renovations to the park that will open before the summer. The first is the new Swan Creek Park area, which combines a wild forest canyon with trails and history, with a celebratory event taking place on April 30. The grand reopening of Owen Beach, nestled on Puget Sound in the old-growth forest of Point Defiance Park, will follow.
Find details about the conservatory and renovation at SeymourConservatory.org.