Officials with the New York Botanical Garden say a restoration project on the magnificent Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is now complete. The classic structure is considered among the best examples in the world of this manner of “glasshouse.” The Haupt Conservatory was completed in 1902. It was based on the design of the Palm House, which resides in the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.
Although the conservatory has now been reopened to visitors, the number of people allowed to enter and stroll the interior gardens will be limited due to safety precautions made necessary by COVID-19 guidelines.
Inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are exotic plants and trees from around the world. Several pavilions separate the interior. Each of these represents plants from different parts of the planet. Nine different biomes are defined. Species include aquatic plants, vines, shrubs, plants, and trees from lush forests to cactuses from arid deserts. The palm dome features majestic trees that soar aloft with astonishing grace.
Entering the Haupt Conservatory from the streets of New York City is like stepping through a magical doorway that takes the visitor to what seems like an alternate universe. The transition from “concrete jungle” to “exotic plant universe” must be experienced to be appreciated.
The conservatory has undergone numerous renovations over the past century. Previous major restorations were completed in 1935, 1950, 1978, and 1993. The nature of these glass, aluminum, and steel constructions, which enclose humid conditions and other atmospheric ranges, require that they undergo considerable upgrade from time to time.
The latest round of restoration gives the Enid. A. Haupt Conservatory a new lease on life. The facility came close to being abandoned after it eroded to a state of extreme disrepair in the 1970s. The conservatory was saved by a $5 million donation from publisher and philanthropist Enid Annenberg Haupt. She also bequeathed an additional endowment of $5 million for maintenance and future upgrades.
The Haupt Conservatory remains the gem of the New York Botanical Gardens and is the site’s No. 1 draw. The glass and steel masterpiece commands a reputation as among the finest in the world. With recent upgrades, the Haupt Conservatory expertly balances the flavor of a bygone era with modern technology that allows for excellent growth conditions inside.