Como Park Conservatory and Me

I grew up in St. Paul, MN, one of the lucky urban areas in the United States that adorns a public conservatory. The Conservatory sits like a crown jewel in Como Park, overlooking Como Lake and sits adjacent to the public zoo.

Como Park is a very special place to us Minnesotans and even more magical viewing though an eyes of a child. I vividly recall my dad taking us kids to the conservatory on cold winter days when one longed for the splendors of spring and summer and the outside weather was biting and bitter.
The sound of the birds taking refuge in the glorious glass building, the smell of the earth, the humidity, the plants. It touched my scenes and my soul more than I would ever know as a child. The conservatory offered up a good alternative to a vacation and a brief rest from what seemed an endless winter’s grip.

I retained my love of plants and biology, and went on to the University of Minnesota to gain a science degree, of which I taught for several years before going to work in the landscape industry.
img_0017 In 1988 a customer of mine asked if I would be interested in installing a wood conservatory she had purchased from England. From that point on I was hooked. I went to work for various companies that were building conservatories and was able to gain experience in the design and installation of nearly every product that was offered to the market. Over time my son, Mike, has joined on and asked the question why we didn’t set out on our own and build the best conservatory available today.
So many years ago I didn’t realize the impact Como Park Conservatory has made on me. I am grateful and lucky to share the splendor of the Conservatory with my own children.

The Conservatory Olympics

In honor of the 2012 Olympics, we would like to take the time to notice our very favorite British Conservatories!

Starting with Horniman

Syon Park Great Conservatory in Greater London
The Great Conservatory sits on over 40 acres of parkland and gardens. The conservatory sits adjacent to Syon House wherein 1547; King Henry VIII’s coffin was brought to on its way to Windsor for burial. It burst open during the night and in the morning dogs were found licking up the remains! This was regarded as a divine judgment for the King’s desecration of Syon Abbey. Wow, drama!

Next, Kensington!

Although technically an Orangery we love all things Kensington so this is at the top of our list because the palace and the grounds on which it sits is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This Queen Anne orangery was built in the 1500’s. As British explorers combed the new world, one of the popular things to do was to bring back plant specimens to England for research. Citrus crops, like oranges, became a popular delicacy in Britain (and a prevention of scurvy for British sailors). British winters were hard on orange trees, and so ‘orangeries’ were built that would allow the trees to be wheeled out onto the terrace in the summer, and maintained indoors in the winter. Conservatory Craftsmen will build your orangery today with folding walls so the entire space can open up in the summer to the terrace, pool and points beyond.

Belton House Orangery

Another Orangery but oh so pretty and it reminds me of Downtown Abbey! The orangery has a solid roof, unlike a conservatory. Today we build a skylight on the roof. This also helps minimize solar gain, for an open south exposure. And the Gold goes to…. KEW!

For anyone traveling to London, for the games, or any other time, the tour of a lifetime is Kew Gardens. Several conservatories of various designs and age will captivate the enthusiast for an entire day. Sprawling turn of the century conservatories that allow the visitor to climb up into the domes and achieve an intimacy with the flora, unlike anywhere in the world. The British have long been Olympians in their research and study of plants, but we can thank them even more for developing the Conservatory, for which we have dedicated our lives to building. Looking to gain more information on Conservatories? Sign up here for emails introducing Conservatory Craftsmen and other related topics!

Folding Walls

At Conservatory Craftsmen, we offer custom folding walls for conservatories at prices far below our competition.

Once considered a luxury for commercial projects, now homeowners are taking advantage of this design option to open walls to the outdoors.

Our folding wall systems are mahogany or thermally broken aluminum. All walls are insulated, weather-tight and four seasons ready.

Incorporate folding walls into your conservatory. We can build these wall systems 13′ tall and up to 50′ long.

Christmas in the Conservatory

img_4802This year, we decided to move the couch and side chairs out of the conservatory and move the dining table into the space for Christmas dinner.

Mrs. Hewitt applied her sublime holiday decorating talents to create an elegant environment nearest to a magical Christmas gathering.

The table was set, and as the sun went down, the candles were lit and the family gathered in prayer and thanksgiving.

We want to thank all our wonderful customers, friends, and suppliers who have worked with us in 2011 to make it our biggest year yet, and to bring to us the resolve to work even harder in the year 2012 as it arrives.

Thank you all. Jim and the family