For 125 years, Phipps Conservatory has inspired guests with the beauty and wonders of nature. We are excited to commemorate our 125th anniversary in 2018, celebrating our historic past, vibrant present and exciting future ahead — including inspiring seasonal flower shows, community events, public programs and groundbreaking green innovation.
125 Years of Phipps Memories
Since 1893, Phipps has been a destination for Pittsburghers to celebrate nature in the company of friends and family — and that means a lot of memories have been made in our gardens! By sharing photography and stories, guests like you are joining in our walk down memory lane and celebrating the special moments they've shared at Phipps through the decades. Stay tuned for a gallery of your Phipps memories!
Do you have a photo and memory from Phipps that you would like to share? We want to hear from you! Complete the form below to start sharing.
You may also mail or email your memories to:
One Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Please include all the information above, and add a mailing address if you would like materials to be returned.
125 Years of Amazing Flower Shows
Windmills and dollhouses in 1913! Alice in Wonderland in 1966! Broadway melodies in 1985! SUPER. NATURAL Glass Art in 2017! Our Historic Flower Shows and Exhibits archive lets you jump to fondly remembered shows from our past and relive them room by room.
Did You Know?
Explore five fun 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.
Explore Our Historic Timeline
Follow a chronological timeline of major Phipps events, accomplishments and impact from 1893 to the present.
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.
Select photos © Paul g. Wiegman