Detroit’s Belle Isle Conservatory to close for renovations

The botanical collection will be closed until 2024 to make way for a $10 million update to its glass and steel dome

click to enlarge The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory at Detroit's Belle Isle Park is in need of upgrades. - Shutterstock
The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory at Detroit's Belle Isle Park is in need of upgrades.

At Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, the lush botanical garden at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory offers a welcome respite from Michigan’s cold, bleak winters — but not this year, or the next.

Starting in mid-November, the Conservatory will close until May 2024 to make way for a $10 million project that will update the building’s glass and steel dome. So fans of the gardens only have a few more weeks to enjoy them before they close to the public for many months.

The plans were discussed during a Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday by Amanda Treadwell, an urban field planner for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division.

“We know it’s a long time, but there’s a lot of work for them to do there,” Treadwell said.

The project entails replacing glass panels on the dome and cleaning its steel beams, as well as updating the conservatory’s ventilation system.

“It gets really hot in here, especially at the top in the summer,” Treadwell said. “So that’ll greatly improve the health of the plants.”

Scaffolding will be constructed in and around the dome, and a temporary second floor will also be installed to protect the plants from damage.

The $10 million project is funded through a $7.5 million grant from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. It also received a $2.5 million private donation, Treadwell said.

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Lee DeVito

Leyland “Lee” DeVito is the editor in chief of Detroit Metro Times since 2016. His writing has also been published in CREEM, VICE, In These Times, and New City. He once asked porn star Stormy Daniels to spank him with an issue of Metro Times. She obliged.

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