FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY
- Architects: J.M. Freese, Columbus
- 1800 East Broad Street
- Expansion: Bohm-NBBJ, Columbus, 1992
Franklin Park and the Franklin Park Conservatory are gems in the Columbus park system. Franklin Park is located on what had been the site of the Ohio State Fair from 1874 to 1886, before the fair moved to its current location. In 1895, the city built a conservatory near the northeast corner of the park, a popular, yet lavish, amenity in the large metropolitan parks of nineteenth-century Europe and America. This $24,000 building featured an elegant palm house, smaller greenhouses for growing, as well as administrative space. The primarily iron-and-glass Palm House features a curved roofline, a central entrance flanked by glass turrets, and a large lantern at the top of the central pavilion. The conservatory’s ornate entrance on the west side was removed in 1957, and restored in 1991 when the building was expanded and renovated to host Ameriflora, an international flower show, in 1992. The current conservatory is four times as large as the original, and features a variety of growing environments as part of its permanent horticultural display. Near the west entrance is Stephen Canneto’s thirty-foot-tall sculpture NavStar; its stainless steel billowing sails represent Christopher Columbus’s three ships. The 110-acre park is surrounded by a residential neighborhood. Among the distinctive features in the park are the lake and cascades of water along the southern edge, the superintendent’s cottage, and the 1915 picnic shelter and recreation building.