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Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Columbus, OH

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place near downtown Columbus. People love coming here all year round, as the curators here see to it that there is something fun for everyone. The center was founded in 1895 and remains one of the greatest Columbus attractions to date. So much fun can be had exploring all over this beautiful attraction. Not only are there magnificent plants, but there is also terrific artwork. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is open daily at an affordable admission fee. Today, it is a horticultural and educational institution showcasing exotic plant collections, special exhibitions, and Dale Chihuly artworks.

The conservatory contains over 400 plant species. Biomes representing global climate zones include: Himalayan Mountains, Tropical Rainforest, Desert, and Pacific Island Water Garden. Additional plant collections include a Bonsai Courtyard, Show-house with seasonal displays, orchids and tropical bonsai collections, and Palm House with more than 40 species of palms. The conservatory is set within the Franklin Park neighborhood, and surrounded by Franklin Park, the 88-acre city park of the same name.

Franklin County Agriculture Society purchased 88 acres of land two miles east of downtown Columbus to host the first Franklin County Fair in 1852. By 1874, the Franklin County Agricultural Society agreed on the importance of this piece of land, increased the size to 93 acres, and made it the official site of the Ohio State Fair. The state fair occupied the site until 1884, when it moved to a new location north of Columbus. With the change, the lot was abandoned. But on May 17, 1886, the site was officially revived when the Ohio State Legislature passed a resolution declaring it open for use as a public park.

In 1893, the Chicago’s World Fair and Columbian Exposition was an immensely influential social and cultural event. It inspired the city of Columbus, Ohio to create a horticulture building modeled after the Exposition’s Glass Palace. This glass structure, built in the grand Victorian style, was erected in Franklin Park and opened to the public in 1895 as the Franklin Park Conservatory. From 1895 to 1989, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department owned and operated the conservatory. Unfortunately, little is known about the conservatory’s earliest days, as a fire in Columbus City Hall destroyed its records in 1921. Much of the conservatory’s history has been documented from newspapers and personal written accounts. The facility offers a wide range of educational classes for school groups, families, and individuals of all ages. Its extensive plant collections and special exhibitions provide hands-on learning opportunities about the natural world, gardening, and the arts.

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