For Immediate Release: Mon., Jan. 22

Contact: Julie LaBar | Director of Marketing and Communications
412/638-6008 ǀ jlabar@phipps.conservatory.org

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Celebrates 125th Anniversary
Pittsburgh’s glasshouse gem plans special events throughout the year to commemorate 125 years of service

Pittsburgh, Pa. — Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens — one of America’s oldest and largest conservatories — celebrates 125 years in Pittsburgh, honoring its historic past, vibrant present and exciting future ahead.

A 125-year history of moving forward, the green heart of Pittsburgh leads positive change, inspires new discoveries and makes lifelong memories, connecting people to the beauty and wonders of nature. To celebrate, Phipps announces new initiatives and activities planned throughout the year, including:

  • Palm Court Restoration — The renovation of Palm Court, a centerpiece of Phipps, includes the replacement of the room’s glass and ribbed structure, in addition to the recreation of the signature decorative ogee which has been missing from the building’s roof since a spring storm in 1937 prompted its removal. The classic ogee will return the historic glasshouse’s stunning skyline profile to its original design, commemorating Phipps’ 125th anniversary.
  • “125 Years of Memories at Phipps” Spotlight — Phipps invites guests to share cherished stories and photos of their favorite flower shows and exhibits at phipps.conservatory.org/125. Memories will be featured on Phipps’ website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout 2018.
  • Fall Flower Show Celebration — This year’s Fall Flower Show will recognize and celebrate historic moments at Phipps that have created lifetime memories. Guests will step back in time through beautiful, nostalgic flower displays, treasured iconic props and historic artifacts in this special new show opening Sat., Oct. 13.
  • 125th Anniversary Gala — A glasshouse gala event will mark Phipps’ anniversary, bringing members of the Pittsburgh community together in celebration.
  • New Level of Sustainability Innovation and Impact – A global leader and model in sustainability, Phipps has significant plans during this milestone year. To learn more, see Phipps’ Five-Point Sustainability Plan.

Phipps has led major garden advancements through the decades, now attracting almost half a million guests annually. Explore Phipps’ 125-year evolution here:

Five Facts About Phipps' History — and Its Future

  1. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was a gift. Philanthropist Henry Phipps gifted the Conservatory to Pittsburgh and, after a little over a year of construction, it opened to the public on Dec. 7, 1893. The building, originally consisting of only nine rooms, cost $100,000 and was designed by greenhouse manufacturer Lord & Burnham. Many of the original plants showcased at its opening came to Phipps from the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
  2. Flowers used to be displayed very simply. Unlike the immersive, unique shows guests enjoy today at Phipps, early exhibitions consisted largely of flowers presented in pots on waist-high benches. It wasn’t until 1935 that the new head horticulturalist, Ralph Griswold, implemented more comprehensive garden designs that continue to inspire Phipps’ shows today.
  3. Phipps’ collection of orchids is world renowned. Phipps’ Barbara Tisherman Slipper Orchid Collection is curated in collaboration with the Orchid Society of Western Pennsylvania and is one of the most definitive of its kind. The collection is accredited by the Plant Collections Network, offered by the American Public Gardens Association and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. This acclaimed orchid collection displayed in the Orchid Room, with additional vibrant displays through the Conservatory during Phipps’ Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show now through Feb. 25, remain guest favorites.
  4. Art exhibitions are a part of Phipps’ 125-year history. From the white marble kneeling Venus statue added by Henry Phipps in 1893 to the nature-inspired biophilic art showcased in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Phipps has developed an esteemed collection of exclusive artwork to further enhance the guest experience. Artwork on display now includes iconic glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, Hans Godo Fräbel and Jason Gamrath.
  5. Phipps is a green building hotspot. Five years ago, Phipps opened the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), a net-zero energy and water building that remains the first and only building to meet four of the highest green certifications: The Living Building Challenge™, LEED® Platinum, Four Stars Sustainable SITES™ and WELL Platinum Certification™. In addition to the CSL, many additional buildings hold prestigious certifications at Phipps: The Welcome Center is the first LEED certified visitor center in a public garden, the Production Greenhouse is the first and only greenhouse in the world to achieve LEED certification (LEED Platinum EBOM), the Tropical Forest Conservatory is one of the most energy-efficient in the world and the Living Building Petal-certified Nature Lab at Phipps is one of the nation’s first sustainable, modular classrooms. Construction is underway to transform a former public works building on a brownfield into a high-performance, sustainable Exhibit Staging Center designed to give visitors behind-the-scenes access as staff members develop props and materials for use in Phipps’ flower shows and exhibits, continuing its expansion as a forward-thinking green leader.


About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Phipps commemorates its 125th anniversary in 2018, celebrating its historic past, vibrant present and exciting future ahead — including inspiring seasonal flower shows, community events, public programs and groundbreaking green innovation. Learn more at phipps.conservatory.org.

| Twitter ǀ Facebook ǀ YouTube ǀ