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Final open house for renovation plans for Tacoma’s Seymour Conservatory

A last ray of sunlight illuminates the interior of the Seymour Conservatory. “This is one of three Victorian conservatories on the West Coast,” said Metro Park natural resources manager Joe Brady. “How many other cities have something like this?” The conservatory will soon become bigger and better. Residents have a chance to give input on the new design.
A last ray of sunlight illuminates the interior of the Seymour Conservatory. “This is one of three Victorian conservatories on the West Coast,” said Metro Park natural resources manager Joe Brady. “How many other cities have something like this?” The conservatory will soon become bigger and better. Residents have a chance to give input on the new design. Staff file, 2015

Tacomans will get one final chance Thursday night (July 21) to give their opinions on designs for the W.W. Seymour Conservatory renovation and expansion — and its cost.

Since public open houses in January and April, the design has been refined and the cost estimated at $12 million by SHKS Architects, which is working with Metro Parks Tacoma on the project.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Andrea Smith of the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners. “It’s nice to see something in reality that the public has agreed with in terms of how to expand and move forward.”

The conservatory in Wright Park is a Victorian glass-paned greenhouse built in 1908, one of just three such buildings on the West Coast.

The primary goal of the renovation, announced late last year and slated to begin in 2017, is to repair and restore the original building.

Work will be done on the heating system, windows, gutters, wiring, lighting, steel supports, paint and to recreate the original historic facades.

The project will include what supporters say is a much-needed expansion: building a plant-draped entrance and gift shop on the north end and creating more exhibit spaces in the existing south wing.

In addition, a geodesic dome will be built behind the current building, and restrooms and educational and support facilities will be put underground.

Several options were narrowed down after public comments and the open houses.

While $2 million from a 2014 capital improvement bond will pay for the design and repairs to the old structure, the remaining costs will require fundraising, said Michael Thompson, public information officer for Metro Parks.

The conservatory houses more than 250 species of plants, plus seasonal floral displays and exhibits.

An expanded building will allow many more types and sizes of plants from various climates around the world, and more opportunities for public education and gathering.

The conservatory’s mission is to connect people with nature.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568, @rose_ponnekanti

Open House

What: View and comment on final plans for the W.W. Seymour Conservatory renovation.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday (July 21).

Where: Metro Parks headquarters, 4702 S. 19th St., Tacoma.

If you can’t make it: Look at plans in person at the conservatory or online, then give comments to project manager Kristi Evans at 253-305-1054 or kristie@tacomaparks.com.

More information: conservatoryfuture.org.

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