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Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is known for their wonderful parks and gardens among other things. One star attraction in their collection is definitely the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. Residents lovingly refer to this park as "The Domes."
Almost everywhere one travels in Milwaukee the esplanades are artfully landscaped in addition to what they achieve in the parks.
In the summertime bright blooming flowers are sure to catch one's eye and brighten even the darkest of days. Who doesn't appreciate a montage of mixed and colorful beauties alongside the road?
As a matter of fact the Milwaukee County Parks received a Gold Medal Award by the National Recreation and Park Association for their management program thus it is not just my observation that Milwaukee excels in their horticultural endeavors. They have been singled out and recognized for their successful efforts in helping to make that midwest city that sits on the banks of Lake Michigan most attractive.
Written on back of the postcard shown above is the following:
"Displayed in these domes are varieties of living trees, shrubs, cacti, and flowering plants from all continents. Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Milwaukee, Wisconsin
A MAJOR UNIT OF THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY PARK SYSTEM"
The original conservatory in that location was built in 1898 but the on site greenhouse needed so much repair that it was decided to demolish it in 1955 and rather build something new.
A local architect Donald Grieb was consulted and he successfully bid upon and was hired for the new project. What he designed were three beehive shaped domes to replace the old greenhouse.
The total cost was 4 1/2 million dollars and it was completed in 1967.
Each dome is 140 feet in diameter at the base and is 85 feet in height providing 15,000 square feet of space in which to house the plants, birds, water elements and the like.
Located on the South side of Milwaukee at 524 South Layton Blvd, the entire park now consists of sixty acres.
Needless to say with sixty acres, the exterior grounds are also nicely landscaped although the sunken garden feature that we enjoyed many years ago was removed in the 1980's due to budget cuts.
You can see what the sunken gardens looked like in an old postcard below as well as my photo at the top of this page.
This same information posted below is on the back of both oversized postcards shown above.
"The unique, space-age "Domes" of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, in Milwaukee, duplicate climates and plant communities from around the world. In addition to the Tropical and Arid Domes, the "Show Dome" presents exciting displays of horticultural beauty.
The Conservatory is located at South Layton Boulevard (South 27th St.) and W. Pierce Street. It is open to the public from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. daily and weekends, except on Monday when closing is at 5:00 P.M.
A MAJOR UNIT OF THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY PARK SYSTEM
Published by CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS * Milwaukee 53213"
Most people that go to this park are intrigued and drawn towards visiting the domes. Certainly tourists would want to see what is inside and since Wisconsin is in the "snow belt" and for many months of the year the grounds are covered with an accumulation of the icy white crystals, the warm interiors of the domes become even more inviting.
The normal hours of operation are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday; and 9 AM to 4 PM, Saturdays and Sundays. The hours are extended beginning October 1st and help to accommodate more visitors throughout the holiday season.
Ticket prices are low and range from $5 to $6.50 and admission is free to Milwaukee County residents on Monday mornings.
The Domes are also opened from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a variety of live musical entertainment from October to November and January to March. The same ticket prices apply.
40 Seconds In...this Videotaped Light Show Really Takes Off...
I have never seen the various musical groups performing nor the light shows that are shown during the breaks and at the end of each performance. I do not believe that these extras were in effect when we lived in Wisconsin and visited the Milwaukee area.
What a beautiful sight that must be with the outside grounds blanketed in white and the glass domes lit up in intermittent jewel toned colors pulsing to the music.
Arid Dome / Mitchell Park Domes / Milwaukee, WisconsinClick thumbnail to view full-size
Inside each Dome different plants are featured.
The Arid Dome, as shown in the picture above with my husband and mother-in-law is filled with cactus, trees and plants that exist in desert type regions of the Americas and Africa.
Pathways lead one through this interesting collection of water conserving plants.
The Domes are interconnected through a central passageway.
Mitchell Park Conservatory - Arid Dome
The Tropical Dome is filled to the brim with palm trees, banana plants, orchids, bromeliads, water elements including a waterfall, free flying birds and other plant-life that thrives in a more humid environment.
Just as in the Arid Dome, one can meander through this Tropical Dome at one's own pace even sitting on benches if desired absorbing the atmosphere. Once inside, one can linger as long as one would desire while the domes are open to the public.
Mitchell Park Conservatory - Tropical Dome
The Floral Show Dome is changed out a total of five times during the year and showcases seasonal flowers and things appropriate to the time of year.
Apparently one of the favorite and returning shows is during the Christmas season when a huge model train display is operational in addition to the other holiday decorations and flowers that one might expect to see.
We were told that in the Spring one might expect to see masses of tulips and other bulb plants. Chrysanthemums could be expected to be viewed in the Fall. But in addition to typical varieties of plants, this seasonally decorated Dome also portrays a specific theme. It might be another country or anything to keep it fresh and appealing to returning visitors.
These domes are truly a thing of beauty and some brides and grooms have even begun their married lives by having their nuptials performed inside the domes. Special events like this can be arranged if desired.
If you are a person who likes visiting gardens when touring a new area, be sure and check out the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory ( also known as "The Domes") in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And if you have time, visit some of Milwaukee's other parks. I believe you will be duly impressed!
These domes obviously require a lot of upkeep and there was some thought given to possibly tearing them down after these many years of operation. At times they have been temporarily closed for repairs.
Just this year they have been named a "National Treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Published on March 22, 2017 see the video below for more information.
Personally I hope that they remain a notable fixture in the Milwaukee Park System so that generations of people can visit there long into the future.
Would you like visiting Mitchell Park Domes if you were in Milwaukee?
Location of "The Domes" in Milwaukee
© 2009 Peggy Woods