Baltimore Conservatory

Baltimore, Maryland | C.1888

Photo Credit: James Hogarty

Modeled from the Kew Gardens in London, the elegant Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore, is a historic conservatory and botanical garden located within Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, Maryland. The structure is known as the second oldest surviving glass botanic conservatory in the United States.

Originally named the Druid Hill conservatory, it was designed by George A. Frederick who designed the Baltimore City Hall. Plans for the conservatory sparked in 1975, however, the conservatory did not open to the public until August 26, 1888. Located at the western edge of Druid hill Park, the original structure included a large Palm House and separate Orchid Room. Three adjoining greenhouses were constructed in 1920 in an effort to expand the popular conservatory.

The Palm House, is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. Constructed with glass and iron, the structure flaunts 175 windows and stands 50 feet tall. The tall ceilings are a necessary feature to house exotic palms in an unobstructed space. Outdoor gardens flank the southeast side of the conservatory in 1.5 acres of groomed terrain.

After years of consistent visitors within its walls, the conservatory was closed in 2002 for major restorations. Amongst the preservation plans emerged plans to build additional exhibits. An addition of two new pavilions now contain a Mediterranean House, a Tropical House, and a Desert House. Upon reopening in 2004, it was renamed to the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in honor of the former Maryland House of Appropriations chairperson Pete Rawlings.

The Rawlings Conservatory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It has also been listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties and is a Baltimore City Landmark. Today the Orchid Room is one of its most impressive features, including 30,000 species and over 100,000 registered hybrids.

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