Urban Adventures: Belle Isle Conservatory

Hot. Humid. Lush. Green. Now that winter is at an end and spring is on the horizon, Detroit has these words to look forward to. However, there is a place in Detroit to escape from winter year round. The Belle Isle Conservatory is full of blooms and thriving green plants this time of year and, indeed, all times of year. The Conservatory exhibits four unique environments: the Palm House, the Cactus House, the Fern House, and the Show House. Each displays a wonderful variety to flora and bright, colorful flowers.

The Belle Isle Conservatory and nearby Aquarium were designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn in 1904 after the style of Victorian English green houses. Albert Kahn Associates have survived him to this day and still design projects in Detroit.

The Belle Isle Conservatory is a great place to escape from winter, or to just escape in general. Nowhere else in Detroit can you enjoy humid, tropical temperatures in the middle of winter. However, being previously managed by the City of Detroit and now by the State of Michigan, the Conservatory has not exactly aged well. Rust is clearly evident on most of the steel trusses which hold the glass dome up. One can only hope that this will be corrected in the near future.

The Conservatory is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm & the Aquarium is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.


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