For Immediate Release: Fri., Sept. 21

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

Victorian Architectural Elements Added in Phipps Conservatory’s Historic Palm Court Restoration
Exciting renovations continue as ornate finials and fleur-de-lis cresting dramatically transform the skyline

Pittsburgh, PAPhipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' Palm Court glass renovation reached a significant milestone today with the completed rooftop installation of new finials and fleur-de-lis cresting, taking Phipps another step closer in the restoration of the conservatory's largest glasshouse room. These elements were signature features of the conservatory’s original Lord & Burnham design of 1893 that guests will see as they enter Phipps. Guests are encouraged to visit and see this exciting progress firsthand, also experiencing the Gardens of Sound and Motion exhibit in its final week, with the conservatory open 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. on Fridays.

Two finials towering at nearly 8 feet tall add a remarkable flourish to both ends of Palm Court. Leading up to the installation, a finial was on display inside Palm Court so that guests could see the intricate detail and scale up close. Four colored stones are embedded in the crown and use the Native American tradition of assigning the four cardinal directions a color with an associated meaning. North is white and symbolizes wisdom of ancestors and guidance. South is yellow and represents healing, growth, vigor and youth. The east stone is red, signifying newness, beginnings, new awareness and dawn. And the west stone is black, representing inner vision, reflection, soul-searching and endings.

In addition, the ridge fleur-de-lis cresting is a classic, striking element found in Victorian glasshouse architecture, with each distinct shape standing between 2 and 5 feet tall. A crane lifted the historic white cresting, installing over 90 feet of the detailed decorative feature atop the ogee.

The Palm Court restoration is part of Phipps’ 125th anniversary commemoration, protecting and sustaining its treasured beauty for future generations. Palm Court is part of the original nine-room glasshouse established in 1893 and is located at the heart of the conservatory. This architectural gem is the first room that guests experience at Phipps, inspiring them with breathtaking plants, floral displays, special exhibits and renowned collections. With the distinct reverse curve of the historic crowning ogee installed on Tues., Aug. 14, today’s stunning architectural additions successfully move Palm Court renovations forward.

Guests can help to preserve Phipps’ legacy by sponsoring a pane of glass in Palm Court, including those located in the iconic ogee, which has a limited number of coveted glass panes available. Panes of glass can be purchased on Phipps’ interactive website — phipps.conservatory.org/restore — by phone at 412/622-6915, ext. 6054, or in person at the conservatory, with glass panes beginning at a gift of $100. Supporters will receive a frameable printed certificate with pane coordinates for their selected section, making this a memorable gift or tribute. Donors will be acknowledged through a special recognition display in Palm Court. 

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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 throughout 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.

Photos © Paul g. Wiegman