I heard on the radio this morning, that we have 11 days until the Shiver on the River which takes place on February 4th. In honor of the Shiver, we’ll have 11 days of architecture and ornamentation of Belle Isle. What might you say is the Shiver on the River? Well only Detroit’s best winter event! Exhibits, displays, refreshments! Live entertainment at the Casino! Boat House open! DYC tours! Ice Rescue Demonstrations! Aquarium! (repeat AQUARIUM!) Dossin Museum! Conservatory! Oh, yeah, conservatory…. Let me tell you about that…


Conservatory exterior

The conservatory located on Belle Isle was designed by Albert Kahn in 1904 and was built as apart of the City Beautiful Movement popular at the turn of the century. (More to come on City Beautiful Movement…) It’s built on a 13 acre parcel and at one time, shared a passageway with the aquarium. The Koi normally found in the lilly pond on the north exterior spend their winter in the aquarium. (Be sure to watch the aquarium’s facebook page for their annual fall koi wrangling event if your want to volunteer.)


Palm trees in dome

At 85 feet high, it’s dome provides 100,600 cubic feet for large palm trees. Other plants include banana trees, orange trees, coffee and sugar cane trees, ferns and cacti.





In 1950, the conservatory under went a renovation where the original 1904 wooden structure was replaced by aluminum and steel. In 1955, it was renamed the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory after Mrs. Whitcomb bequeathed her 600 plant orchid collection.


Workroom at the Conservatory


Koi pond between Conservatory and Aquarium

The conservatory is a beautiful place for photographers… and a nice place to warm up in the winter! If you get to the Shiver, be sure to stop by at the Casino at the Preservation Wayne table and say hello!

Photographs (c) 2011 Jennifer Baross