The history of conservatories begins in the early 17th century. The concept of an all glass orangery came about by a pack of enthusiastic travelers who were discovering new worlds, with exotic plants that gardeners wanted to propagate back in England.
The Conservatory may have started out as a Greenhouse, however as the collected plants became more exotic, the rooms became more of a living space for people who wished to enjoy them.
As raw goods such as glass and steel became more available and less expensive, historic homes (and homeowners) were introduced to a new concept…building an addition onto your home! By the 19th century both private and public Conservatory construction was flourishing in cooler climates all over the world.
The economic downfall of the 1920’s was particularly harsh on the conservatory industry. In lean times, the conservatory space was deemed an needless luxury. As homes were being made more comfortable with central heating, less advanced materials for conservatories made the rooms uncomfortable to be in.
At the turn of the century when Teddy Roosevelt was elected President, he began major renovations on the West wing of the White House, effectively demolishing the conservatories and building an office that we know today as the Oval Office (in Roosevelt’s design, the office was rectangle; Taft renovated it to be Oval).
Modern architecture design was not the shining era of the Victorian Conservatory. Many curved eave ‘solariums’ were built during this period.
Fortunately, good conservatory design always prevails and over the last 20 years we have seen a tremendous re-birth of conservatories all over the world.