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Phipps was presented as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh from philanthropist Henry W. Phipps, who wished to "erect something that [would] prove a source of instruction as well as pleasure to the people." Designed by Lord & Burnham, a New York-based greenhouse manufacturer, for a fee of $100,000, the glasshouse, consisting of nine display rooms, was completed in August 1893, one year after construction began. On Dec. 7, 1893, Phipps Conservatory opened to the public, showcasing many plants originating from the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After its founding, Henry Phipps continued to serve as the Conservatory's benefactor until his death in 1930 at the age of 91.