City budget keeps Volunteer Park Conservatory open; Friends of the Conservatory, generous donors, modest entrance fee all help

Despite fears reported this past March, the City is committed to keeping the 100-year old Volunteer Park Conservatory, the crown jewel of Seattle’s Olmsted park system, open.

The operating budget Mayor Mike McGinn and Parks and Recreation proposed, and the City Council recently approved, includes a $4 per person entrance fee to support maintenance and education programs, and the capital budget includes $2.3 million of the $3.1 million needed for critical structural repairs. To ensure the Conservatory’s success into the future, both the restoration project and day-to-day operations need help from community members.

To date, individual donors have contributed just over half of the $750,000 still needed for the restoration fund. Generous donations to the Friends of the Conservatory and ongoing volunteer labor will help keep the entry fee affordable for all visitors. As of early November, more than 100,000 people had visited the Conservatory this year, about two-thirds of them from outside Seattle.

The Conservatory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it is also a City landmark and one of the few remaining original Victorian public glass houses in the country. It houses an outstanding tropical plant collection that is 100 years in the making, it hosts classes and day camps for school-age children, and it provides space for art classes, events and public gatherings. The Conservatory shelters more than a tropical plant collection. As a warm, quiet, beautiful refuge, it shelters our souls.

To learn about upcoming holiday events and to make a tax-deductible donation, please go to . Members of the public can make contributions to the restoration fund by contacting the Seattle Parks Foundation: